MSO7931 - World War Two pillbox overlooking Porlock Beach (Building)


The remains of a World War II "Type 24" pillbox overlooking Porlock Beach, polygonal in shape with five machine gun loopholes.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

SS 86401 48050. The remains of a World War Two strong post or 'pillbox' set in the top of the massive pebble ridge skirting Porlock Beach about 9 metres above Ordnance Datum and 100 metres west of Porlock Weir quay. It has clear views of Porlock Bay and the Bristol Channel from Hurlstone Point in the east to The Gore in the west. The pillbox is polygonal (roughly D-shaped) in plan, 6.0 metres northwest to southeast by 5.3 metres and from 1.3 metres to 2.2 metres high, with a flat concrete roof. Its outer face has large beach pebbles most of which have fallen off revealing its basic construction of breeze blocks and concrete. The entrance (0.75 metres wide by 2.2 metres high) is in the inland southwest side and is now blocked by a modern wooden door. There are five peripheral splayed loopholes flanking the entrance. The pillbox appears to be in use as a storehouse and when visited the door was locked so the interior details were not seen however it appears to be of typical Type 24 construction. The design of this pillbox is based on the FW 3 Type 24 which was suitable for a garrison of 8 or 9 men and a maximum of 5 anti-tank/light machine guns and 2 rifles [1]. Its construction appears almost identical to the other four pillboxes (MSO7932, MSO8053, MSO8054, MSO8055) situated around Porlock Bay which suggests they were all built to design plan (FW 3/24) by the same contractor. Note: The designing of pillboxes was the responsibility of FW3, a branch of the Directorate of Fortifications and Works at the War Office [1]. Resurveyed at 1:2500. [2]. A beach defence pillbox survives in good condition. [3] The 1947 RAF aerial photo appears to show a gabled roof structure with a ridge line running parallel to the sea unlike the two neighbouring pillboxes (MSO7932, MSO7982) which have pointed roofs. [4] A 1956 photo shows the pillbox unroofed. [5] Pillbox type FW3/24. Identical in design to MSO7932 however it is covered in smaller pebbles which do not obscure its hexagonal shape. It retains its rear iron rifle embrasure covers but the others have been filled with concrete. [6] Standard type 24 pillbox, camouflaged with pebbles, situated on beach with field of fire seawards. No access to interior. Now sealed with door and with pipe vent through rear embrasure (used to smoke fish?). LOCATION: The Quay, Porlock Weir. [8] SS 8639 4805. A Second World War type 24 pillbox, visible as a structure, was mapped from aerial photographs taken in 1941 and 1946. Located on the shingle strand facing the sea about 90 metres northwest of the end of Porlock Weir quay, the concrete pillbox is a slightly irregular hexagon about 6 metres at its widest point, with one wall longer than the other five. The pillbox's function was disguised in 1941 with the addition of a false 6 by 5 metres rectangular pitched roof, the ridge aligned northwest to southeast, which was still in place in 1960 but was no longer visible in 1972. The structure was still extant in 2005. [9-14] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [15] There are two Second World War ╩╗Type 24╩╝ pillboxes on the beach immediatelyeast of the quay. [16]

Sources/Archives (16)

  • <1> Monograph: Wills, H.. 1985. Pillboxes: a study of UK defences 1940 . Leo Cooper (in association with Secker and Warburg). p15.
  • <2> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 22 November 1994.
  • <3> Unassigned: Hellis, J.. March 1994. Fortress Study Group. Ref JH.00111.
  • <4> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. RAF CPE/UK/1980 4026 (11 April 1947).
  • <5> Monograph: Gilman, J. 1999. Exmoor's Maritime History. P.47. Fig. 51, 1956 photograph.
  • <6> Unpublished document: Dawson T. 2002. How effective is archaeological fieldwork in identifying different building types of the WW2 defensive installations along the North Somerset coast between Porlock Weir and Watchet. Unpublished A level report.
  • <7> Report: Fisher, J.. 2004. Porlock Weir: Conservation Area Character Appraisal. Exmoor National Park Authority. p7, 9.
  • <8> Digital archive: Council for British Archaeology. 2002. Defence of Britain. DEB01.
  • <9> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR SS 8647/9 (MSO31206/018) (27 June 1941).
  • <10> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 106G/UK/1655 4021 (11 July 1946).
  • <11> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 541/544 3018 (1 June 1960).
  • <12> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/72065 099 (15 April 1972).
  • <13> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR SS 8647/25 (24028/01) (9 August 2005).
  • <14> Archive: Crowther, S., Dickson, A. and Truscoe, K.. 2007. Severn Estuary Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment: SS 84 NE. MD000130.
  • <15> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 957615, Extant 8 February 2022.
  • <16> Report: Pratt, N. and Thurlow, T.. 2022. Porlock Weir Conservation Area: Appraisal document. Exmoor National Park Authority. p 32.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Coastal Risk 2014: Flood Zone 3 tidal
  • Coastal Risk 2016: Flood Zone 2 tidal
  • Coastal Risk 2016: Flood Zone 3 tidal
  • Defence of Britain Database UID: S0006557
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO368
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO12283
  • Local Heritage List Status (Proposed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 NE48
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 957615
  • Shoreline Management Plan 2 (0-20)
  • Shoreline Management Plan 2 (20-50)
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 35352



Grid reference Centred SS 8640 4805 (5m by 5m) MasterMap
Map sheet SS84NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (5)

Related Events/Activities (4)

Related Articles (1)

Record last edited

Nov 1 2022 3:10PM


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