Southend Seafront Wartime Defences

Southend

Property Description

We started at a disguised pillbox, which when we visited in 2012 was next to the derelict Esplanade House. When we revisited in 2017, the site has been demolished and replaced with a Premiere Inn – luckily the pillbox has survived! The brick wall appears to be of classic Southend Victorian origin, which appears to have later had a brick removed in order that the pillbox built behind it could remain covert, firing through the allegedly normal wall. The Germans would have been pretty confused! The pillbox was visible through a gap along from the wall, and the top of it peeped out over the top of the wall itself. Apparently the entrance of the pillbox is bricked up although we couldn’t get in to the site to see.

Across the road are two ‘anti-tank blocks’ (a.k.a. pimples or Dragon’s teeth), embedded into the seawall. One features a plaque (nice work) explaining the block’s purpose, stating over 1,000 of these blocks lined Southend seafront in the 1940s. Their purpose would be to block the shores from any German vehicles trying to drive into the mainland.

In 2013 we also visited ‘Esplanade House’ which has since been demolished. which used to be behind the walls of the pillbox. A jetty existed, up until 2007, built for the original pre-1940 industrial site, and also used by the 1970s industrial site.  On the end of this jetty was a WW2 observation post, sort of like a big pillbox which was used for watching for invaders, rather than shooting at them.

At the beach end of Walton Road in Southend on Sea lies a mysterious series of circles in the road surface. Believe it or not, these are the remnants of anti-tank roadblocks installed to prevent enemy movement around the seafront if the Germans launched an invasion on the beaches of Southend in 1940. Presumably, the concrete bases of these anti-tank devices; potentially cylinders, were too tough to remove after wartime or during the surfacing of the road, and hence the road was resurfaced around them. As well as at Walton Road pictured here, they also exist at Cliveden Road, either side of the Roslin Beach Hotel.

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