Shropshire History

Shropshire

Pill Boxes

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Pillboxes were named from their resemblance to the boxes that pills used to be sold in. They were made of reinforced concrete with an entrance at the rear and loopholes at the front and sides for shooting through. The plan was for them to be manned by the local Home Guard and the units did this until the invasion threat disappeared in 1944. Due to the inflexibility of their design and high cost compared to dug fieldworks, the deployment of pillboxes came under scrutiny in 1941 and the Home Office issued orders to stop building them in February 1942. Pillboxes were not meant for living in so were rather spartan inside and there were 7 main types :-

 

Type 22

22

This was hexagonal with walls about 12″-24″  thick  and an internal measurement between opposite walls of 10ft. There were usually rifle loopholes in five of the six walls and an entrance in the sixth. A small L-shaped blast wall can sometimes be found protecting the entrance.

 

Type 23

23

This was rectangular or square with an inside measurement of 8ft. There was an open annex containing a mounting for a light anti-aircraft machine-gun, with rifle loopholes in the roofed part and often in the open area as well. There was usually no doorway but rungs set into the outer wall.

 

Type 24

24

This was an irregular hexagon with 5 faces of 8ft in length externally and a rear face of 13ft, with two rifle loops and an entrance 2ft wide. Those with thinner walls (up to 15”) have rifle embrasures built in and the thicker-walled version (up to 24”) has pre-formed embrasures designed to accommodate light machine guns.

 

Type 25

25

This was circular with an internal measurement of 6ft. It usually had three rifle loops and a low entrance. The walls were usually 12″ thick and often shuttered in corrugated iron, thus giving it a distinctive appearance.

 

Type 26

26

This was square with walls 18” thick.  There was a central loophole in each of three walls and the doorway and loopholes in the fourth wall. Externally it was 10ft square.

 

Type 27

27

This was octagonal with sides of 11ft 7 inches and a porch on one side to protect the entrance. It had a well in the centre for use as observation or for a light anti-aircraft weapon,  reached through double steel doors in the inner wall. It was partly sunk into the ground and stood about 3ft above ground level.

 

Type 28

28

This was rectangular with external walls 3ft 6 inches thick and the roof 12 inches thick. It was 20ft by 19ft on the outside and  13ft by 12ft inside. At the front of the pillbox was a low and wide embrasure for a 2 pounder anti-tank or 6 pounder Hotchkiss gun. The maximum traverse of the gun was limited to 60 degrees.

 

Seagull Trench

seagull Rednal6

This was built on some military airfields.  It consisted of a long double curved trench that in plan looked like a seagull’s wings. Usually they were roofed over.

 

Allan Williams Turret

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c9/Two_Alan_Williams_Turret%27s%2C_Cockley_Clay_Hall%2C_30th_March_2009_%28detail%29.JPG/220px-Two_Alan_Williams_Turret%27s%2C_Cockley_Clay_Hall%2C_30th_March_2009_%28detail%29.JPG

Pillbox formed by a metal turret, which could be rotated through a full 360 degrees, set above a steel and brick-lined pit. It was designed for a machine gun to be fired either through the front loophole which was further protected by shutters, or through the circular opening in the roof in a light anti-aircraft role. It was suitable for Vickers, Bren, Hotchkiss or Lewis machine guns in either a ground defence or anti-aircraft role, or a Boys anti-tank rifle or rifle grenade for ground defence. The army did not favour the design and most were installed at airfields. The turret was designed by Allan Williams in conjunction with Colonel Ford and Lieutenant Williamson. Williams was the Managing Director of Rustproof Metal Windows Company in Saltney, where the turrets were produced. The turret had a garrison of 2 men or, if necessary 3 men, for whom there were folding seats inside. One man could rotate the cupola which was on roller bearings. According to the manufacturer, 4 men could dig the position out and erect the turret ready for firing in 2 hours and remove it completely in 30 minutes. It cost about £125. Nearly 200 Allan Williams Turrets were made and installed, salvaging of the metal after the war means that only 33 remain.

 

Apley Forge (SO70749834)

Type 22 concrete and brick pillbox covering a small bridge over the River Severn from the east bank.

 

Atcham (SJ54000932)

A concrete and brick hexagonal pillbox that covered the approach to the old Atcham Bridge (now a footbridge). It was sited on the west bank but has now been demolished.

 

Atcham (SJ53480971)

Pillbox on the north bank of the River Severn west of Atcham Bridge. It has now been demolished.

 

Atcham (SJ54070950)

Pillbox on the north bank of the River Severn north of Atcham Bridge. It has now been demolished.

 

Atcham Airfield (SJ55600935)

Seagull trench at the junction of the old A5 and B4380. It consisted of an A-shaped complex of brick trenches with concrete coping. The trench averaged 4ft deep and 2ft wide with a concrete floor and no parapet. At the south-east corner, at the south end of the eastern trench, there was a small room with a concrete cast roof and floor. The floor was 1ft 3” below the bottom of the trench and the height of the chamber was 4ft 3”. An iron grill duckboard was found in the southern trench. The site was destroyed by road widening of the old A5/B4380 road junction in 1978.

 

Atcham Airfield (SJ56681067)

Site of concrete pillbox south-east of Smethcote Farm. Demolished in 1978.

 

Atcham Airfield (SJ56780991)

Site of hexagonal pillbox on the B4394, north of the junction with the old A5 (now B5061). Demolished in 1975.

 

Atcham Airfield (SJ571113)

Type 22 pillbox by the River Tern to the west of Duncote Farm.

 

Atcham Airfield (SJ57380984)

Cantilevered pillbox west of Uckington which still retains its machine gun rail.

 

Atcham Airfield (SJ57751020)

     

 

Seagull trench about 65ft in length and covering the eastern approaches to the airfield. It has a concrete roof with brick pillars and square machine gun bays.

 

Atcham Airfield (SJ57921064)

Hexagonal pillbox at the southern corner of Ravenshaw’s Gorse, with three loopholes and an emergency exit beneath the central embrasure. One of three covering the east, north-east and south-east approaches to the airfield.

 

Atcham Airfield (SJ57971090)

Hexagonal pillbox at the northern corner of Ravenshaw’s Gorse, with three loopholes and an emergency exit beneath the central embrasure. One of three covering the east, north-east and south-east approaches to the airfield.

 

Atcham Airfield (SJ58071078)

Type 24 concrete and brick pillbox at the eastern corner of Ravenshaw’s Gorse, with three loopholes and Turnbull mountings. One of three covering the east, north-east and south-east approaches to the airfield.

 

Cheswardine (SJ70582945)

Type 24 concrete pillbox located on the bank of the Shropshire Union Canal at Goldstone Wharf, facing a canal bridge.

 

Cosford Airfield

SJ798053 – square brick and concrete pillbox east of the road next to Cosford Station. This appears to have had a dummy roof, now gone. Oddly, it only has one loophole and  the entrance faces the field of fire.

 

Cressage (SJ 59390444)

   cressage 2 maybe

Type 22 hexagonal brick pillbox sited south of Cressage Bridge over the River Severn. It is built on a concrete plinth with concrete lintels, corrugated iron and concrete roof. Single loopholes in all walls except the one containing the doorway, which is flanked by slits on each side. The sides are about 10ft long and there is a Tshaped blast wall in the interior, the cross of the T forming a baffle against the west facing entrance. The entrance faces away from the river and bridge, which it was designed to control. It still retains traces of wartime green camouflage paint.

 

Cressage (SJ59340464)

Cressage_Pill_box

Concrete and brick Type 22 pillbox sited north of Cressage Bridge over the River Severn.

 

Cressage (SJ59540495)

Square concrete pillbox built into the shoulder of the river bank to cover Cressage Bridge from the north at Brick Kiln Rough.

 

Cressage (SJ596050)

Pillbox that was sited 350 yards north-north-west of Cressage Bridge. It has now been demolished.

 

Edgmond (SJ71891842)

Bridge_Farm

Hexagonal pillbox with a loophole in each of the three sides which face the road. The entrance is in one of the sides facing away from the road. It controlled the bridge over Strine Brook to the south of Bridge Farm.

 

High Ercall Airfield (SJ59611772)

Site of a brick and concrete pillbox with a corrugated iron roof, by a lane leading north from the village of High Ercall to the airfield. It was destroyed in 1996.

 

High Ercall Airfield (SJ598180)

Reinforced concrete pillbox.

 

High Ercall Airfield (SJ598184)

Rectangular concrete and brick pillbox with a corrugated iron roof. It was disguised as an agricultural building.

 

High Ercall Airfield (SJ59861888)

Rectangular brick and concrete pillbox with a corrugated iron roof at a road junction in the hamlet of Osbaston.

 

High Ercall Airfield (SJ604175)

Concrete and brick pillbox with no roof at Cotwall Farm off the B5062 road. It is in bad condition and under threat of demolition.

 

High Ercall Airfield (SJ604187)

Reinforced concrete pillbox.

 

High Ercall Airfield (SJ60621933)

Concrete and brick pillbox on a minor road to the north-west of the airfield.

 

High Ercall Airfield (SJ60818)

Type 24 pillbox with only its roof and two sides remaining.

 

High Ercall Airfield (SJ61171778)

Site of a brick pillbox located on Cotwall Road leading to the village of High Ercall. It was said to have been disguised as a garden shed but was destroyed in 1996.

 

Hinstock Airfield (SJ660260)

Ttype 24 pillbox with only its roof and two sides remaining.

 

Hodnet Airfield (SJ615273)

Type 24 pillbox west of Espley Cottages to the south of Hodnet village. Only its roof and two sides remain.

 

Ironbridge (SJ661037)

Allan Williams turret on the railway embankment covering the crossing of the River Severn at Ironbridge power station. The dome of the turret is in a fair condition but the base is badly corroded.

 

Longdon on Tern (SJ61801544)

Heaxagonal pillbox north-east of Mill House. It was made of concrete with the entrance on the south  side away from the road. It was sited on a terrace overlooking the valley of the River Tern to the west and north. It has now been completely demolished with no trace.

 

Ludlow (SO51607422)

Allan Williams turret in a field beyond the gasworks.

 

Market Drayton (SJ68383456)

market drayton

This is a rare example of a Type 24 pillbox constructed to a two-storey height, incorporating a concrete plinth. It has plain grey concrete walls and a concrete roof. Five of the walls have single loopholes and a wider wall, facing west, has loopholes placed either side of a central doorway. Inside there is a concrete T-shaped anti-ricochet wall and two timber battens attached to the outer wall. It was designed for a garrison of 8 men and monitored movements along both the Newcastle Road and Shropshire Union Canal.

 

Montford Bridge Airfield (SJ42711641)

Site of a seagull pillbox shown on an airfield plan and facing north-eastwards. It consisted of a W-shaped trench with a concrete roof supported on concrete pillars. It was located in the south-west corner of the airfield on elevated ground.

 

Rednal Airfield (SJ36382736)

Seagull trench situated on rising ground to the western edge of the airfield, facing across the south runway. The trench is roofed with turf covered concrete supported on columns and reinforced with concrete and brick.

 

Rednal Airfield (SJ37102783)

Seagull trench in an artificial elevated position which is entered via rear. There are surviving machine gun bays and remains of Turnbull mountings. It faces across the runways.

 

Rednal Airfield (SJ372277)

Seagull trench situated in the area of the present Rednal Industrial Estate. The trench is roofed with concrete supported on columns and reinforced with concrete and brick. The entrance to the trench is at the rear. This example features machine gun bays with the remains of Turnbull mounts for the machine guns. It faces over the runways in an artificially elevated situation.

 

Rednal Airfield (SJ372271)

One of three concrete and brick pillboxes covering approaches to the airfield. It is located around buildings at Haughton Farm and there are Turnbull mountings in situ.

 

Rednal Airfield (SJ373270)

One of three concrete and brick pillboxes covering approaches to the airfield. It is located around buildings at Haughton Farm and there are Turnbull mountings in situ.

 

Rednal Airfield (SJ373271)

One of three concrete and brick pillboxes covering approaches to the airfield. It is located around buildings at Haughton Farm and there are Turnbull mountings in situ.

 

Rednal Airfield (SJ37642774)

Seagull trench situated on eastern edge of the airfield, overlooking the runways. The trench is roofed with turf covered concrete supported on columns and reinforced with concrete and brick.

 

Shawbury Airfield (SJ54272288)

Large hexagonal concrete and brick pillbox to the west of Acton Lea Farm.

 

Shawbury Airfield (SJ54532292)

Large hexagonal concrete and brick pillbox to the east of Acton Lea Farm.

 

Shawbury Airfield (SJ55232297)

Large hexagonal brick and concrete pillbox with embrasures on all sides. The entrance is reached via a dog leg below one of the embrasures. It is thought to include a well for an anti-aircraft gun.

 

Shawbury Airfield (SJ55482154)

Large hexagonal concrete and brick pillbox at the airfield entrance.

 

Shawbury Airfield (SJ55792153)

Large hexagonal concrete and brick pillbox on the southern edge of the airfield.

 

Shawbury Airfield (SJ558216)

Pillbox adjacent to the B5063 road with stepped loopholes and about 7ft in height.

 

Shawbury Airfield (SJ56132247)

Hexagonal concrete and brick pillbox situated in a hedgerow to the east of the airfield.

 

Uckington (SJ571113)

Base of a Type 22 pillbox by the River Tern to the west of Duncote Farm. By River Tern and railway bridge across river.

 

Uckington (SJ57131160)

Type 22 pillbox by banks of River Tern, facing towards the railway line to the south and the nearby bridge over the river at Duncote Farm.

 

Upton Forge (SJ559113)

upton forg

Brick and concrete Type 22 pillbox with a small entrance and step at the rear. Sited nextto bridge over River Tern at Upton Forge, south-east of Upton Magna. There are 3 Turnbull mounting pins still remaining in the loopholes.

 

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Pillbox Study Group