World War II pillbox 100m west of Ralegh's Cross Hotel

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020723

Date first listed: 24-Jul-2002

Map

Ordnance survey map of World War II pillbox 100m west of Ralegh's Cross Hotel
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Somerset

District: West Somerset (District Authority)

Parish: Clatworthy

National Grid Reference: ST 03837 34397

Summary

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

From the summer of 1940 England's defences were strengthened against the threat of German invasion. A large number and diversity of defensive structures were built across the whole country, from road and rail blocks to underground `hides', from earthwork gun emplacements to barbed wire entanglements, anti-tank ditches and pillboxes. The most substantial of these were the pillboxes, small reinforced concrete or brick buildings of a diversity of shapes and forms, designed to house either infantry, anti-tank guns or field artillery. The full range of defensive structures was generally complementary, however, and a variety of structures were therefore built together, either at vulnerable or strategically important nodal points, along the coast, on the communications network, around vital installations such as airfields, or arranged in linear defensive systems called Stop Lines that were intended to obstruct the enemy's advance. Pillboxes had first appeared widely as a defensive element in the relatively static trench warfare of World War I. Gradual development over the following two decades was superseded in early 1940 by design principles born from the practical experience of British troops in France, giving a shell-proof concrete construction whose loopholes or embrasures in each facet gave all round cover. Some World War I examples survive in eastern and southern England, but pillbox construction mainly dates from late May 1940 as part of the rapid programme of anti-invasion defences initiated after the fall of France. By October 1940 over 14,000 shuttered concrete pillboxes had been built, supplemented by large numbers in other construction techniques and a small number of commercially-produced pillbox designs. Various forms of camouflaged facing were employed and some were hidden within existing structures. By late 1940, however, the tactical concepts underlying the use of pillboxes, especially their deployment to provide linear defensive lines, were being criticised as too inflexible, costly and impractical as an effective defensive system. Increasing reliance was being placed on the digging of fieldworks around vulnerable points and on the use of mobile troop units. This shift of policy culminated in 1941 in an order requiring no more pillboxes to be built, by which time some 20,000 pillboxes had existed in England. About 5500 survive, some 800 in good condition.

The pillbox 100m west of Ralegh's Cross Hotel survives intact at an important and well known junction on Exmoor. It is one of only two which were built inland on Exmoor, although Porlock Bay, about 20km to the north west was defended by a network of pillboxes, many of which still survive. The monument illustrates the measures taken to fend off the threat of German land invasion from the south west in the early years of World War II. It survives also as an intact example of a Type 24 infantry pillbox, one of about 500 good examples of the 1700 or so originally built in England.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

The monument includes a World War II pillbox located in the grounds of the Ralegh's Cross Hotel, situated on the summit of a broad ridge which extends along the Brendon Hills area of Exmoor. The pillbox forms part of the anti-invasion defensive system established between June and October 1940 to counter the threat of German invasion. The pillbox conforms to a standard War Office Type 24. It is constructed from reinforced concrete and clay brick on a concrete foundation raft, with the lower part of the structure sunk below ground level. It is hexagonal in plan with walls up to 0.9m thick and external faces of 3.1m in length, although the rear south-facing wall in which the doorway is set, is slightly longer. The five other walls each contain an embrasure or firing loop of uniform design, a horizontal slit 0.6m wide which is splayed internally to accommodate a light machine gun which would have been positioned in front of it. The structure has a flat roof with a slight step above the embrasures and is 1.6m high above the surrounding ground level. The post and wire fence surrounding the pillbox is excluded from the scheduling, where it falls within its 1m protective margin, although the ground beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 1 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 35317

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Riley, H, Wilson-North, R, The Field Archaeology of Exmoor, (2001), 168
Other
ST 03 NW 89, National Monuments Record,

End of official listing