MSO7932 - World War Two pillbox at Porlock Beach (Monument)


The remains of a World War II "Type 24" pillbox overlooking Porlock Beach, polygonal in shape with five machine gun loopholes. It may have been the command post for the area. It has partially collapsed.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

SS 86471 48004. 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 10 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 basic construction is of breeze blocks and concrete with outer face lined with large beach pebbles. The pillbox has collapsed on its North side due to the shingle being washed away and the whole inside is now filled with shingle. The pillbox is polygonal (roughly D shaped) in plan, 5.3 metres northwest to southeast by 4.8 metres. It is 1.3 metres high on the southwest side and 0.3 metres high on the undermined north side. It has a flat concrete roof whose centre contains a socket (0.15 metres square) probably for a radio antennae or flagpole. The perimeter of the roof contains rectangular sockets presumably for a wooden fence. The entrance in the inland southwest side is also blocked by shingle. There are five peripheral splayed loopholes for anti tank guns and two smaller, machine gun or rifle, loopholes flanking the entrance. The pillbox appears to be of typical Type 24 construction. Its situation, with clear views of the other pillboxes in the area, and its roof features (not seen on the other pillboxes) suggest it might have been the command post for the area. 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 (MSO7931, MSO8053, MSO8054, MSO8055) situated arouns Porlock Bay which suggests they were all built to design plan (FW 3/24) by the same contrator. Note: The design of pillboxes was the responsibility of FW3, a branch of the Directorate of Fortifications and Works at the War Office [1]. Published Survey [2] 1:2500 correct. [2-3] A beach defence pillbox survives in good condition. [4] The pillbox appears in a 1956 photo with a pointed wooden roof structure, open at the rear. It is not clear whether this opening is intentional or, more, likely due to decay. [5] Pillbox type FW3/24. Constructed out of pebble clad concrete. Has subsided substantially into the beach. [6] Coastal locations often provide a setting for historic defensive features; in this case former World War II “pill box” fortifications. In the example on the right, sea erosion of the foundations has led to acute subsidence. [7] Standard type 24 pillbox, camouflaged with pebbles. The foundations have collapsed, resulting in the pillbox tilting forward art an angle. Entrance blocked - no access. LOCATION: The Quay, Porlock Weir. [8] SS 8647 4800. 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 22 metres NE 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 structure's function was disguised in 1941 with the addition of a false conical pitched roof which was still extant in 1960, but which was no longer visible in 1972. The attachment of this false roof to the pillbox's flat roof is likely to explain the features on the top of the pillbox previously described: it not being for antennas etc and therefore it is probably not a command post either. The pillbox's exterior faces were also covered in beach pebbles, giving it a more rounded appearance. The pillbox was still extant in 2005, although slumped forward on the seaward (north facing) side due to the shingle strand being eroded. [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 ʻType 24ʼ pillboxes on the beach immediatelyeast of the quay. The southern pillbox is suffering from subsidence and has tipped down towards the sea. [16]

Sources/Archives (16)

  • <1> Monograph: Wills, H.. 1985. Pillboxes: a study of UK defences 1940 . Leo Cooper (in association with Secker and Warburg).
  • <2> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1973. 1:2500. 1:25,000. SS 8648.
  • <3> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 22 November 1994.
  • <4> Unassigned: Hellis, J.. March 1994. Fortress Study Group. Ref JH.00113.
  • <5> Monograph: Gilman, J. 1999. Exmoor's Maritime History. 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. S0006558.
  • <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. 957630, Extant 8 February 2022.
  • <16> Report: Pratt, N. and Thurlow, T.. 2022. Porlock Weir Conservation Area: Appraisal document. Exmoor National Park Authority. p 32, 38, Figure 39.

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: S0006558
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): 7982
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO12284
  • Local Heritage List Status (Proposed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 NE49
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 957630
  • Shoreline Management Plan 2 (0-20)
  • Shoreline Management Plan 2 (20-50)
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 35353



Grid reference Centred SS 8647 4800 (5m by 5m) MasterMap
Map sheet SS84NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (5)

Related Events/Activities (4)

Related Articles (1)

Record last edited

Nov 2 2022 1:04PM


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