Southminster Mega Pillbox

Greater Essex

Property Description

This heavily-defended concrete strongpoint has been described as the ‘monster’ pillbox, and is potentially the largest in Britain. It is located in the flat expanse of farmland east of Burnham-on-Crouch and Southminster on the very isolated yet peaceful Dengie Peninsula along the Essex coast. Built in 1940, this blockhouse would have been armed to the teeth with a 4 Vickers medium machine guns; a particularly formidable choice compared to most pillboxes, 6 Bren light machine guns, a rifle, and a light anti-aircraft Lewis gun. Whilst the hypothetical effectiveness of the Home Guard against a German invasion has been widely questioned by historians, there can be no doubt that this stronghold would have done a great deal to keep the Dengie marshes locked down until reinforcements arrived if an invasion did occur in 1940.

The pillbox consists more-or-less of two type 22 pillboxes holding the majority of the loopholes connected by an entrance passageway holding the LAA gun and a single rifle loophole. I was very impressed by the pillbox upon first entry; it is incredibly clean compared to most specimens now used as dumping grounds. The concrete floor and walls were clear and looked in places almost new. Graffiti inside the bunker dates to the 1970s and further back, and we even found a half-penny from 1941 and a three-pence from 1944 in and around the structure. As far as humble pillboxes go, this was quite an exciting place to see.

Thanks to Will Smith for some of the photographs of the pillbox seen here, particularly the interior. We explored it with him in December 2019.

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