First World War pillbox, Howden's Pullover


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
First World War Pillbox TF 44998 95084
Statutory Address:
Sea Bank, Howden's Pullover, Saltfleet, Lincolnshire, LN11 7RP


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Statutory Address:
Sea Bank, Howden's Pullover, Saltfleet, Lincolnshire, LN11 7RP

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

Location Description:
First World War Pillbox TF 44998 95084
East Lindsey (District Authority)
Skidbrooke with Saltfleet Haven
National Grid Reference:


Pillbox, built 1917.

Reasons for Designation

The First Word War pillbox at Howden's Pullover, built in 1917, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Historic interest: * Date and rarity: built in 1917, First World War pillboxes are rare survivals;

Architectural interest:

* Technology: as an illustration of the evolving technology and defensive tactics in 1917; * Group value: as a coherent linear group of First World War pillboxes functionally and physically associated with later Second World War defensive structures.


Although it is not known exactly when the First World War pillbox at Howden's Pullover was built, it is clear that it was constructed as part of an organised coastal defence system with a series of near identical pillboxes placed at 1000 yard intervals. Their design, with single machine gun embrasures to either side to produce flanking fire across the fronts of the neighbouring pillboxes, are similar to those developed on the Western front in 1917, such as those at West Hazebrouck. The lack of front facing embrasures; the reinforced, convex curved roof at least 1m thick; and the use of sandbag shuttering to the exterior were all designed to make them ‘shell-proof’ to resist naval bombardment. This design illustrates the rapid evolution in thinking compared to those believed to be slightly earlier built on the Holderness coast north of the Humber. The pillbox is thought to have been manned by soldiers of the 7th/8th (combined) Battalions, Sherwood Foresters.

On the outbreak of the Second World War, the First World War pillbox was re-occupied and integrated into the new anti-invasion defences, and was associated with anti-tank cubes blocking the exit off the foreshore at Howden's Pullover (now removed). Later in the Second World War, a rectangular-plan structure, possibly an observation post, was added to the roof; its shape is outlined in cement and a lump of concrete has been built out from the seaward wall to support the E corner. Post-war, the interior has been filled with sand.


Pillbox, built 1917.

MATERIALS: concrete, reinforced with expanded metal lath sheeting (Expamet) and steel rails, poured in situ with timber shuttering internally, sandbag shuttering externally.

PLAN: single cell trapezoid.

EXTERIOR: NE (seaward) elevation is blind and convex. NW and SE elevations each have a single, low set, wide-splayed machine gun embrasure. The rear has a single, rebated doorway mainly blocked. The exterior of the structure has a rusticated appearance left by the sandbag shuttering.

INTERIOR: access to the interior is blocked and the interior is largely filled with sand. The walls have smooth whitewashed concrete surfaces, with horizontal plank shuttering witness marks and rectangular wooden plugs in the side walls, which are probably attachment points for the plank shuttering. Only the top surfaces of the gun embrasures in the NW and SE walls are visible. The internal face of the NE wall is canted up to the ceiling, to match the angle of the external slope and to maintain the thickness of the wall.


Books and journals
Infantry Machine Gun Company Training (Provisional), (1917), Plate XVIII
Notes on Trench Warfare, (December 1916), Fig 50
Oldham, Peter (Author), Pillboxes on the Western Front, (1995)
Oldham, Peter (Author), Armageddon's Walls - Britsh pill boxes and bunkers 1914-1918, (2014)
Osbourne, Mike, Pillboxes of Britain and Ireland, (2008), 55, 162 - 164
Wills, H, Pillboxes: A study of UK defences 1940, (1985), 40 - 41, 83 and 89
Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey - Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, Field Survey, Selected First and Second World War Monuments, North Yorkshire, East Riding of Yorkshire, Lincolnshire: Phase 3, Parts 1 and 2


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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