Pair of Second World War pillboxes, A635, Greenfield, Saddleworth Moor

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
II
List Entry Number:
1465066
Date first listed:
12-Feb-2020
Location Description:
Pair of Second World War pillboxes at National Grid Reference SE 01785 04650, (postcode OL3 6LQ), overlooking the A635, opposite the Yeoman Hey Reservoir.

Map

Ordnance survey map of Pair of Second World War pillboxes, A635, Greenfield, Saddleworth Moor
© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2020. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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Location

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

Location Description:
Pair of Second World War pillboxes at National Grid Reference SE 01785 04650, (postcode OL3 6LQ), overlooking the A635, opposite the Yeoman Hey Reservoir.
District:
Oldham (Metropolitan Authority)
Parish:
Saddleworth
National Park:
PEAK DISTRICT
National Grid Reference:
SE0178904676

Summary

Pair of linked pillboxes, constructed around 1940-1941.

Reasons for Designation

A Second World War pair of linked pillboxes, overlooking the A635 and Yeoman Hey Reservoir, are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest: * For the unusual design of these paired pillboxes, which are partially sunk into the steep hillside, camouflaged amongst a natural rock fall of boulders, and are linked by an underground, L-shaped passageway.

Historic interest: * Constructed in the Second World War as part of the precautions taken to repel an invading force; * An important component of a defended locality, strategically placed to cover a defile containing the A635, a vital road link at the time between Barnsley and Manchester on either side of the Pennines, with gun embrasures trained specifically on the road as it descends from Saddleworth Moor.

History

Pillboxes are small fortified structures constructed as part of British anti-invasion preparations, being placed at strategic locations such as river crossings, or along coastal and inland anti-invasion ‘stop lines’ intended to slow down the progress of an attacking force. Some were designed for rifles or light machine guns; others, more unusually, housed larger artillery. The earliest examples of pillboxes date from the First World War, when a small number were constructed along the coast, but the concept was developed in the early stages of the Second World War, when many thousands were built, though only a limited proportion survive. The majority of these are standard designs which were issued in June and July 1940 by the War Office Directorate of Fortifications and Works. There were around 12 standard designs formed from reinforced concrete, but basic designs were also adapted to local circumstances and available building materials. Additionally there were completely individual designs, some of which were disguised to resemble a quite different non-military structure.

This pair of Second World War pillboxes was built in 1940 or 1941 overlooking the A635 linking Barnsley with Manchester. The pillboxes are an individual design, rather than one of the standard, reinforced concrete designs. They are built into the hillside with an upper pillbox and a lower pillbox linked by an L-shaped passageway. They are camouflaged by being placed amongst a natural rock fall with the embrasures from both pillboxes facing up the road as it descends southwards from Saddleworth Moor. They do not form part of a ‘stop line’, but were part of a defended locality, covering a defile (narrow pass between mountains or hills), the important A635 road route across Saddleworth Moor from Barnsley to Manchester.

Details

Pair of linked pillboxes, constructed around 1940-1941.

MATERIALS: orange brick, sandstone, reinforced concrete.

PLAN: the two pillboxes are both rectangular with one angled corner and are linked by an L-shaped passageway. A rectangular roof entrance at the angle of the passageway gives access to both pillboxes. The upper pillbox has an angled north-west corner, two embrasures in the north wall, facing the road, and a partial raised upper level on the south-west side with an embrasure facing south, overlooking the passageway entrance. The lower pillbox has an angled north-east corner, with two embrasures, facing north and north-east.

EXTERIOR: the pillboxes are built into the hillside with only the upper part of both visible; the L-shaped passageway is beneath ground level. The pillboxes are built of orange brick with reinforced concrete roofs.

The upper pillbox is located just above a large, natural rock outcrop. The reinforced concrete roof is partially visible, though similar in colour to the natural rocks surrounding it, and partially covered with grassed earth; the visible concrete has rounded edges. The visible upper parts of the walls are brick. The narrow-splayed embrasures are suitable for rifles or light machine guns. Above the two north embrasures and one south embrasure are projecting sandstone slabs which continue through the width of the brick walls. There are also projecting stone slabs below the north embrasures which continue through the walls.

The lower pillbox is located amongst a scatter of rocks. The reinforced concrete roof has rounded edges and is similar in colour to the natural rock and is partially covered by grass. The visible upper parts of the walls are brick with a flush band of sandstone slabs beneath the two upper rows of bricks. Lower down on the northern side, just above ground level, are projecting sandstone slabs, which also form embrasure lintels.

INTERIOR: the upper pillbox has a brick platform to stand on beneath the raised upper level. The stone slabs above the embrasures form lintels to the openings and the stone slabs below form shelves in front of the embrasures.

The lower pillbox has similar stone lintels and shelves to the embrasures. There is a brick anti-ricochet wall in front of the passageway entrance.

MAPPING NOTE: the approximate location of the linked pillboxes is mapped by a circle as their buried positions means that more accurate mapping is not possible.

Sources

Websites
Defence of Britain Archive: Defence of Britain Database Anti-invasion record: S0006748, accessed 18 September 2019 from https://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archives/view/dob/ai_full_r.cfm?refno=6748&CFID=8aa0d09b-1ffb-4c64-aa58-dc32e9b92c1b&CFTOKEN=0
Defence of Britain Archive: Defence of Britain Database Anti-invasion record: S0013285, accessed 18 September 2019 from https://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archives/view/dob/ai_full_r.cfm?refno=13285&CFID=8aa0d09b-1ffb-4c64-aa58-dc32e9b92c1b&CFTOKEN=0

Legal

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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