Tank Traps & Associated Structures in Pegwell Bay

Page updated 6th July 2014

Introduction

English Heritage List Entry Summary

Location

E.H. Comments

Details

Contact Details


Introduction

When the new Pegwell Bay Flood Defences plans were sent out for comment in early 2013, our local historian (Mrs Brenda Jones) realised that the proposed earth wall would partially bury the 2nd World War concrete tank traps along the seaward edge of the A256 Sandwich Road.
Thanks to her efforts the council were persuaded to re-position the earth wall to leave the traps almost uncovered.
With the help of the Cliffsend Residents' Association she worked with English Heritage and others to have the tank traps + associated pillbox + anti-tank cylinders listed; this has been successful, and they are now protected as Grade II structures of historic interest.

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List Summary

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

Name: World War II anti-tank pimples and cylinders and associated pillbox at Pegwell Bay

List Entry Number: 1413803

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Location

A series of 61 anti-tank pimples, around 300 anti-tank cylinders and one pillbox along the coast in Pegwell Bay, Kent.

The anti-tank pimples are between the A256 Sandwich Road and the cycle path, 175m south-west of the petrol station.
The pillbox is between the A256 and the cycle path, 660m south-west of the pimples.
The anti-tank cylinders are on the salt marsh at Stonelees, 330m south of the pillbox.

Map references:-

Anti-tank pimples – TR 34415 63720 to TR 34342 63645
Anti-tank cylinders – TR 33964 62749 to TR 33992 62326
Pillbox – TR 33960 63091.

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Comments

Pegwell Bay, being particularly close to the French coast and with flat salt marshes, was identified as a potential landing place after the fall of France in May-June 1940.
 
The surviving defences show a range of structures designed to obstruct a landing including the relatively common anti-tank pimples, Type 24 pillbox and the rare anti-tank cylinders.
It is important to remember that these fixed structures would have been augmented by barbed wire entanglements, anti-tank ditches, mines and, from 1941, Z1 scaffolding barriers.
 
The pillbox, although of a common type, groups with the other defences and also has an uncommon feature in the special embrasures designed to enable fire to be directed down into the adjoining ditch.
 
The anti-tank cylinders are of additional interest because they illustrate the improvised nature of elements of Britain’s defence, being constructed from, presumably, civilian concrete drainage pipes. The group at Pegwell Bay constitutes a readable, diverse and, particularly in terms of the numbers of anti-tank cylinders which stretch for around 500m, impressive survival which fully merits listing.
 
The remains of the flame fougasse forms part of the boundary of the petrol station at the north of the bay.
This originally had a 1930s battery observation post on the site. Although the fougasse is a rare type of defensive feature, it now consists of little more than a low concrete wall with a number of slots from which pipes would have projected down to the beach.
All pumping machinery, storage tanks and piping has been lost and what remains is, therefore, too fragmentary to merit designation, although it has clear local interest.

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Details

The surviving World War II defences at Pegwell Bay include a Type 24 pillbox; the low pyramidal anti-tank pimples, known colloquially as ‘Dragon’s Teeth’; and tall anti-tank cylinders.
They are spread along the coast for nearly 2km between the petrol station on the A256 to the north and the banks of the River Stour in the south.

Starting from the north, the structures are as follows:

Anti-tank pimples: situated between the eastern edge of the road and a cycle track, approximately 200m north-east of the vehicle entrance to Pegwell Bay Country Park (between NGR TR3441563720 and TR3434263645).
They comprise a single row of 45 flat-topped pyramidal concrete blocks, approximately 0.3m high, and roughly alternating between square-plan pyramid-shaped blocks and more box-shaped, rectangular blocks.
 
Pillbox: situated just east of the A256, approximately 660m south-west from the southern end of the pimples (NGR TR3395863091).
It is a hexagonal Type 24 pillbox, the most common type constructed during World War II and was sited to cover a sluice which ran down to the coast in a north-east direction.
Built of concrete it has stepped Bren gun embrasures in five of the sides and an entrance flanked by two pistol loop-holes in the longer rear wall. The roof is reinforced with Hy-Rib steel reinforcing mesh which can now be seen in the interior due to corrosion of the concrete.
An unusual feature is the provision of slots below two of the embrasures, likely to have been incorporated to enable fire to be directed into the drainage sluice which runs at the foot the pillbox.
Timber battens for a wooden firing shelf survive either side of some of the embrasures. The interior does not have an inbuilt Y-shaped anti-ricochet wall.
There is no wartime graffiti evident.
A number of other pillboxes along this stretch of coast have been demolished.
 
Cylindrical anti-tank defences: these comprise a single line of reinforced concrete cylinders approximately 1m high, which run for some 450m from a point 330m south of the pillbox. They roughly follow the line of the Boarded Groin, a C14 earth bank erected as a sea wall in 1365, to the edge of the playing fields just north of the banks of the River Stour (between NGR TR3396462749 and TR3399262326). The cylinders start on low salt marsh land to the north of the groin and eventually ascend it.
At least 130 are identifiable on aerial photographs but there are probably others hidden in the brush in the southern part of the line.
Many of the dome-topped cylinders retain the steel fixing for barbed wire set into the top.

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Contact Details

English Heritage listing

Brenda Jones – 01843 585320

 

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