Pair of pillboxes, Type 23, constructed in 1940.
Reasons for Designation
This pair of Second World War Pillboxes are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* an integral part of the Northern Command 59 Division Reserve Stop Line, the only inland stop line built in North Yorkshire, which ran for a total of 85km (53 miles), forming an important defensive line against the threat of German invasion;
* built to an unusual Northern Command adaption of the FW3/23 design, the form of which differs having wide machine gun embrasures and being semi-sunken;
* they retain their essential character and functional legibility, enhancing the broader understanding of the stop line as a whole;
* an important component of a defended locality known as the Hutton Rudby ‘nodal point’, strategically placed to cover a bridging point at Hutton Bridge across the River Leven.
* as an extant manifestation of the precautions taken to repel an invading force during the early stages of the Second World War.
* the pair of pillboxes benefit from a functional group value with the Grade II-listed C18, Hutton Bridge.
Pillboxes are small fortified structures, constructed to strengthen field defences, allowing their occupants to fire their weapons protected from enemy small arms fire and to some extent, artillery fire. They were built during both World Wars to resist invasion, but most were built as part of British 1940-41 anti-invasion preparations, with over 14,000 having been constructed nationally by October 1940. They were placed at strategic locations such as river crossings, or along the coast, or inland ‘stop lines’ that were intended to halt, or slow down the progress of an invader. Some were designed for rifles, some for light or medium machine guns, while others more unusually, housed artillery pieces. The majority of these pillboxes were built to one of a number of 'standard' designs, issued by the War Office's, Directorate of Fortifications and Works, in June and July 1940. The design of the pillboxes at Rudby, was a Northern Command adaption of one of these drawings: FW3/23 (Type 23), and examples of this variant are only found in North Yorkshire, and the north-east of England. Unlike the standard FW3/23 drawing, which had small narrow embrasures and elbow rests for riflemen, the Northern Command adaption had three wide embrasures with a concrete shelf, intended for a tripod mounted Vickers or Browning medium machine gun. Most Type 23 pillboxes were built at ground-level on concrete raft foundations; the examples at Rudby differ, as they are semi-sunken, a feature that was intended to reduce their conspicuousness and to provide greater protection for the occupants.
These pillboxes were built in 1940 as an integral part of Northern Command’s 59 Division Reserve Stop Line, the only inland stop line that was fully developed in North Yorkshire and part of a national scheme of such defensive lines. It ran from Malton in the south, to Egglescliffe, near Yarm, and northwards towards Peterlee, County Durham. The stop line used natural features such as rivers, embankments, cuttings, dense woodland, and valleys as obstacles, and fortifications were only built where the natural landscape failed or where there were bridging points; like the listed Grade II C18 Hutton Bridge (National Heritage List for England (NHLE): 1150659 & 1315453), which spans the River Leven at Hutton Rudby. Hutton Rudby became a 'nodal point'/anti-tank island, with a range of defences covering the approaches of the bridge, including the pair of pillboxes at Rudby. Given their exposed positions, it is highly likely that these pillboxes would have been camouflaged to resemble a non-military type of structure, or may even have been disguised as hayricks as was sometimes done, but there is now no trace of how this was done.
Two Second World War pillboxes, Type 23, constructed in 1940.
MATERIALS: reinforced concrete.
EXTERIOR: not inspected (information from other sources). The two pillboxes are situated approximately 335m apart, to either side of Stokesley Road. The northern example is aligned north-east to south-west, while the southern pillbox is aligned north-west to south-east; this allowed for interlocking fields of sustained machine gun fire across Stokesley Road and towards the two T-junctions on Middleton Road. The pillboxes are identical semi-sunken, 4.34 x 2.13m rectangular-plan structures, with 38cm thick walls and a 15cm thick reinforced concrete roof over the front chamber. The front wall has a single, wide gun embrasure raised just above ground-level, and the two side walls, each have a similar embrasure that is off-set towards the front wall; the rear wall is blind.
INTERIOR: not inspected (information from other sources). Each pillbox is divided into two chambers, accessed by climbing over the rear wall into an open, 1.37m square and deep chamber, which has a concrete floor with a slender concrete post for mounting a light anti-aircraft machine-gun (LAAMG). Four concrete steps descend against the left-hand side wall, to a low narrow door that allows access into a 1.83m square chamber, with a flat concrete ceiling, and wide embrasures in the front and side walls. The walls were shuttered using timber planks that have left vertical witness marks. A concrete shelf, with a rear lip that spans the width of the chamber against the front wall, would have allowed the occupants to fire a tripod mounted machine-gun through any of the three embrasures. The southern pillbox is partially infilled.