Druridge Bay pillbox

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
II
List Entry Number:
1471214
Date first listed:
08-Sep-2020
Location Description:
Centred at NZ 2814994923.
Statutory Address:
Hemscott Hill, Widdrington, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 5EQ

Map

© Crown Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2021. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1471214.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 21-Jun-2021 at 18:50:32.

Location

Statutory Address:
Hemscott Hill, Widdrington, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 5EQ

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

Location Description:
Centred at NZ 2814994923.
District:
Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
Parish:
Widdrington Village
National Grid Reference:
NZ2814994923

Summary

Pillbox, erected 1940-41; disguised as a vernacular cottage.

Reasons for Designation

This pillbox, erected in 1940-41, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest: * an individually designed pillbox carefully and ingeniously camouflaged as a ruined vernacular cottage; * it illustrates good attention to constructional detail, built as a roofless ruin with walls of differing heights, creating the impression of a ruined civilian building; * an exemplary example of a Second World War pillbox that retains its original character and functional legibility.

Historic interest: * as an extant manifestation of the precautions taken to repel an invading force during the early and critical stages of the Second World War; * part of a coherent and legible group of coastal anti-invasion defence works forming an important defensive line against the threat of an enemy invasion.

Group value: * with two listed buildings at the nearby Hemscott Hill Farm.

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 pillbox is situated within the anti-invasion Defence Area of Druridge Bay. A national study of Second World War anti-invasion landscapes in England was undertaken by the Council for British Archaeology between 2002 and 2004. It defined a number of ‘Defence Areas’ comprising coherent and legible groupings of anti-invasion defence works that survive well within landscapes largely unchanged from those of 1940-1941. The level sandy beach at Druridge Bay was considered to be exceptionally vulnerable to an attack by enemy landing craft, and was the most critical point at the centre of the defence positions occupied by the 162nd Infantry Brigade, defending the Northumberland coast during the critical invasion danger period of June to September 1940. The defence of Druridge Bay was organised by front-line firing positions, including pillboxes, situated amongst the sand dunes overlooking the beach. Anti-tank cubes were positioned in almost continuous lengths along the beach, but blocking in particular the exits between the dunes where they were arranged in two and sometimes three lines. From 1941, these were supplemented by anti-tank scaffolding, normally placed in front of the concrete cubes, but sometimes behind. An anti-tank ditch was dug at the back of the dunes, and minefields were laid.

Details

Pillbox, 1940-1941.

MATERIALS: yellow sandstone, with concrete embrasures and roof, and a red-brick blast wall and chimney stack.

EXTERIOR: it is situated by the side of a minor road on an elevated coastal site, facing east over Druridge Bay. It is of non-standard type and takes the form of a rectangular pillbox with a flat roof disguised as a vernacular, ruined, single-storey cottage. Its stone walls are irregularly coursed with prominent quoins, and there is a tall brick-built chimney stack to the north gable. The west side facing onto the road stands to eaves height and has a centrally-placed entrance with a stone lintel and stone-block jambs, which is flanked to either side by a small gun embrasure. The left return stands to gable height and has a single concrete gun embrasure disguised as a stone window opening, and the right return is more ruinous and has an identical window and embrasure. The rear wall facing the coast is blind apart from a single concrete gun embrasure also disguised as a stone window opening. It has a flat concrete roof. Each embrasure has a recess to take the timber frames of mock windows

INTERIOR: a longitudinal red-brick blast wall divides the interior into two, with access to the front of the structure around either end. The roof is of corrugated concrete and the walls are exposed stone. The three large concrete rifle embrasures have concrete shelves serving as elbow rests.

Sources

Websites
CBA report on anti-invasian defences in England, accessed 22-06-2020 from https://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archives/view/defended_cba_2005/downloads.cfm
Defence of Britain Archive CBA 2202, updated 2006, accessed 16-06-2020 from https://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archives/view/dob/ai_full_r.cfm?refno=7011

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

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].