Benfleet’s pillbox stands proud over looking a channel separating Canvey Island from the mainland. Built at around 1939/1940, the Second World War pillbox is not in the best condition – decaying and crumbling yet thankfully isolated from any main areas. The five sided defence has four loop holes, designed for a Bren light machine gun or Short Magazine Lee Enfield rifle to be used.
Thousands of pillboxes were built during the 20th Century, designed to be manned by Home Guard to protect Britain in the event of a Nazi attack. Benfleet’s pillbox is conveniently situated alongside the river, where it would have mainly be to guard the waters from enemy ships passing through. Whilst the top of the pillbox perhaps looks in the worst condition, these concrete lumps were actually intentional – the main reason for this was to help disguise it, plus it would also help to protected it a bit more, but not significantly.
This pillbox also contains a loop (firing hole) to size of a pistol, such as the British Webley revolver, facing the entrance, in order to fire upon any hostiles trying to clear out the pillbox from the back. It features a ‘porch’ entrance, which has walls made of bricks in a ‘zig-zag’ pattern, probably to reinforce it against explosions. You can gain access inside by lowering your body down. Inside the centre of the pillbox, there’s a wall in the shape of a ‘Y’, which would be used to protect a percentage of the men inside the pillbox from a grenade thrown in.
Today, a lot of the bricks on the outside have crumbled off, and the base of the pillbox is clearly visible on the water side – which is likely to get worse from coastal erosion. Whilst it is fairly bad, it’ll still be there for many years to come.