WW2 Pillboxes - a question on usage

#1
OK, there are three old WW2 pillboxes in a village called Steeton in West Yorkshire. They used to guard the entrance to Steeton Dump which was a munitions factory and cannon range used during the war. They are just sitting in some fields. The factory building is still there but nowadays it is used by Damart thermal clothing company.
Now at least two of them are under threat from a developer and I've been doing an application for them to be listed with English Heritage who are very interested in them. They're not in a conservation area.

What I'd like to know for the application is how would they have been used in practice. Two of them are single story and one is a two storey building which I think might have been the main control point with guards detailed from there to the two other single story boxes.
Can anyone shed any more light on their use or have I got it fairly close in my guess?

Here are the pictures:

Pillbox pictures on Photobucket

There are also three videos on YouTube:

Pillbox 1

Pillbox1 and pillbox 2 - context

Pillbox number 3 - in context
 
#4
Thanks guys. Ours don't seem to be listed anywhere but from reading about the listing of some as 'scheduled ancient monuments' I'm encouraged that this could happen with ours.
I don't want to see them bulldozed without a fight and this particular developer cares about nothing other than how many tacky overpriced boxes he can fit into the smallest space available. The pillboxes are just in his way.
Even though they're not intending to build right where the boxes are, they'll either be in someone's garden or in a space that will be planted up with trees, I don't see why they can't be left intact.
We've shown their context in relation to the factory and its importance to the war effort. We've even found online memories of a man who worked at the factory and as a home guard who actually stood guard in these pillboxes. (BBC WW2 Memories Project). I just wanted to provide explanation of the way they might have been used to add some meat to the application. Although English Heritage seemed very interested in them anyway, I thought it worth adding to the information we've provided.


As I was looking around I also thought that people could have been shagging in there. Unfortunately I was on my own so I didn't do anything ...although I considered a ham shank.
 
#5
Awol said:
My brother lost his virginity in a similar one.

Hope this helps.

Him along with a million others Awol. The Family Planning Society or similar may be interested in their preservation. A big chunk of the British population may have been conceived in them. :wink:

Good luck with your project BarkingSpider.
 
#6
For what it's worth; having looked at the pictures I have concluded that they are an eye-sore and might better be demolished.

Wouldnt the area benefit from development?
 
#7
Dragstrip said:
For what it's worth; having looked at the pictures I have concluded that they are an eye-sore and might better be demolished.

Wouldnt the area benefit from development?
Wah? :D

I've got nothing against the development per-se except that we need more affordable housing around here and these will mostly be well out of that bracket.
As a reminder of that fact that we actually had a war and that it came here in the form of the munitions complex I think they should be saved, or at least two of them anyway. Very few of these types of structure remain nowadays. I'm all for progress but there are sound historical and educational reasons for saving them. They could easily be restored with section 106 money.
 
#8
Recently heard about some being used as homes for rare bats. Ok , yes, I confess I'm a civvy and I listen to nature programs... :roll:
 
#10
CRmeansCeilingReached said:
BarkingSpider said:
What I'd like to know for the application is how would they have been used in practice.
erm... staggen Sie auf?
:D Well yes.

I was just thinking that the two storey one would have been the main control point with the other two having guards detailed from the two storey box. Having said that it has come up that there was also an armoury and guard post by the factory itself so we're looking into whether this was the main CP or just a road checkpoint.
The thing is that the two storey and one of the singles are positioned very close together and there doesn't seem to be any obvious reason why this would be, unless perhaps one pre-dates the other and the two storey was added to improve lines of sight?
Always more questions than answers:

 
#12
Those Pillboxes look just like the ones on one of the former military camps on the outskirts of Taunton. I presume they're not but the one's surrounding the ex camp in Taunton (now getting torn down for housing) were built by the Yanks. It was one of their supply depots, I assumed the pill boxes where of yank design because they differed from your classic brit ones.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#14
Does your local authority have a body calling himself a Conservation Officer? He may be able to help (perhaps). One problem is that the youngsters in town halls don't know anything about these war relics. We have lost a section of wall with SWS painted on it in (very faded) large yellow letters which was the ONLY souvenir of the blitz near the town centre. Several local 1940-ish pillboxes survive however. As you say they have a different appearance.
 
#15
If you go to Google Maps, select 'Satellite View' and 'Show labels' and put this lat/long into the search box: 53.900166,-1.95312 you'll get a big green arrow centred on the old munitions factory. South of this are three fields, numbering from the left we have fields A, B and C.
Field B has a box (number 3) in the SW corner, there's a disused road lined with trees running north/south along the boundary between fields B and C and the other two pillboxes (number 1 and number 2) are to the East side and the SE corner of field C.
There is no evidence of a road access between pillboxes 1 and 2, but there may have been pedestrian access.

The original main road access to the factory ran from Parkway ('Pkwy' on the map label) across the fields to the factory.
There was also a dedicated railway siding to the North of the factory but this has now gone.

There is a conservation officer but these aren't inside the conservation area, and he's only negotiated the saving of pillbox 3. I'd like to see 1 and 2 saved because of the uniqueness of number 1 as a two storey building and it's relationship to number 2 (if there is one) I don't think it would cause much grief for the developer to rearrange things so they can be saved. He does have to have some green spaces in the development anyway and these pillboxes are already going to be either inside a green space or in one of the gardens. But they're going to knock them down and I don't see why they have to do that just for the sake of it. It's our heritage.

It might be a moot point if English Heritage decide to schedule them anyway as ancient monuments which would also mean we could apply for grant funding to conserve them. I'd still like to establish a relationship between pillbox 1 and pillbox 2 which is why I thought I'd ask the experts on here.
You're experts in stagging on if nothing else... :D

Many thanks for the linky cloudbuster, it shows that there is some good history here that's well worth saving.
 
C

cloudbuster

Guest
#16
No worries, best of luck. If you have any probs, just drop into a conversation with the Conservation Officer that there have been reports of a bat colony in the pillboxes. Should put demolition on hold for a while.
 
#17
BarkingSpider said:
Dragstrip said:
For what it's worth; having looked at the pictures I have concluded that they are an eye-sore and might better be demolished.

Wouldnt the area benefit from development?
Wah? :D

I've got nothing against the development per-se except that we need more affordable housing around here and these will mostly be well out of that bracket.
As a reminder of that fact that we actually had a war and that it came here in the form of the munitions complex I think they should be saved, or at least two of them anyway. Very few of these types of structure remain nowadays. I'm all for progress but there are sound historical and educational reasons for saving them. They could easily be restored with section 106 money.
Not a wah and I am not deliberately being obtuse. If it was up to me, which of course it isnt, I would take some convincing that those buildings have either aesthetic appeal or historical significance. IMO, they are very ugly and quite irrelevant.

However, as patronising as it sounds, I recognise your endeavour as honourable and I wish you the best of luck.
 
#18
They do look interesting: A Type 22 and Type 24, both built on towers would seem quite unusual but I’m not sure about the third one in the pictures. You’ll find some useful info on the Pillboxes.co.uk website. There’s also an account of the Home Guard defence of this site on the BBC People's War website.

I'm sure that English Heritage are interested in pillboxes, and there are thirty Listed ones nationally (mostly in Northumberland; associated with the Coquet stop line, near Otterburn). I would be very surprised, however, if they would recommend any for Scheduling unless they are very special indeed. This level of protection is reserved for sites of demonstrable national importance (e.g. Stonehenge) and interesting though they are, I'm not sure that you could make a case for these.

If you haven't done so already, talk to the Bradford MDC Conservation Officer (Tel: 01274 437495), or the West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service (Tel: 01924 306797) who advise Bradford MDC on heritage matters.

Based on personal experience, I’d say that the best you can hope for is that a record is made before they’re pulled down, unless you can get the developer interested in finding a use for them. If anyone asks, bandy about phrases like “English Heritage Level 3 Building Survey” and quote the English Heritage Guidance ( EH, 2006, Understanding Historic Buildings: A Guide to Good Practice).

Good Luck.
 
#19
Turret_Monster said:
They do look interesting: A Type 22 and Type 24, both built on towers would seem quite unusual but I’m not sure about the third one in the pictures. You’ll find some useful info on the Pillboxes.co.uk website. There’s also an account of the Home Guard defence of this site on the BBC People's War website.

I'm sure that English Heritage are interested in pillboxes, and there are thirty Listed ones nationally (mostly in Northumberland; associated with the Coquet stop line, near Otterburn). I would be very surprised, however, if they would recommend any for Scheduling unless they are very special indeed. This level of protection is reserved for sites of demonstrable national importance (e.g. Stonehenge) and interesting though they are, I'm not sure that you could make a case for these.

If you haven't done so already, talk to the Bradford MDC Conservation Officer (Tel: 01274 437495), or the West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service (Tel: 01924 306797) who advise Bradford MDC on heritage matters.

Based on personal experience, I’d say that the best you can hope for is that a record is made before they’re pulled down, unless you can get the developer interested in finding a use for them. If anyone asks, bandy about phrases like “English Heritage Level 3 Building Survey” and quote the English Heritage Guidance ( EH, 2006, Understanding Historic Buildings: A Guide to Good Practice).

Good Luck.
Yeah, sorry about that, we have applied for listing, not 'scheduling' (as that wouldn't be our call anyway). English Heritage are interested in listing them but they're intending to do a site visit first. The main thing as I see it with these pillboxes is all to do with context and the fact that the munitions factory building is still there too. They have said that the reason they didn't know about them is that they are not within the conservation area. They have already made encouraging noises to me about them, so fingers crossed.
At the moment the developer has already agreed to record them properly and one will be saved as it's going to be within a recreational area. I and others are not happy about this though especially as the other two currently sit in areas which will not be built on. One of them will be in someone's garden but the two storey box will be right in the middle of an area already reserved from tree planting, so it could be saved with a little bit of thought for history.
If we could save that one and the one single box currently up for preservation then I for one would be happy with that. This would mean that a box was preserved on each side of the site giving a context with the original boundary fence for the whole original munitions complex. And it would give the local history society (or whoever) a chance to run information walks to explain their history.
I don't think we're asking for that much here and this is the basis of our application to English Heritage.

Thanks for all the links, more reading... :D
 
#20
Good luck with this,if you want to PM me your address I can send you some info which might be of interest,I will also PM you the name of someone in EH who will likely be interested.
 

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