Southminster Blockhouse

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It is essentially two Type FW3/22 pillboxes joined by a short gallery. Loopholes for four Vickers machine guns are located at the front, with loops for Bren guns at the sides and back. An anti-aircraft well is also located at the back, probably for a post-mounted Lewis gun.

It is essentially two Type FW3/22 pillboxes joined by a short gallery. Loopholes for four Vickers machine guns are located at the front, with loops for Bren guns at the sides and back. An anti-aircraft well is also located at the back, probably for a post-mounted Lewis gun. World War Two introduced a new battle phenomenon, the paratrooper, who could be dropped behind existing defences, advance further inland but also knock out coastal defences from behind, letting an invasion fleet in. The flatlands of the Dengie were an ideal landing spot and as part of the defensive network, a series of pillboxes were sited to counter this eventuality. The most significant pillbox was the South Wick blockhouse, which is the only one of its type in Essex, perhaps even in the Country. It was equipped with impressive firepower and may have acted as a command centre.

This blockhouse is totally unique in Essex; it is by far the largest purely ‘defence’ structure, as opposed to the primarily ‘control’ purpose of the Minefield Control Tower (SMR 10004) further S on the Dengie peninsular, and is of a design not seen anywhere else in the county. Only three other pillboxes in Essex have been recorded with Vickers machine-gun tables, each of them with just one. No other pillboxes in Essex were designed with a combination of Vickers loopholes, ‘normal’ loopholes and an anti-aircraft machine-gun well.

It is in finely surviving condition with little deterioration, particularly inside.

This structure is in the top echelon of surviving World War Two sites in Essex.

External view of blockhouse

External view of blockhouse

Loophole of blockhouse

Loophole of blockhouse

Tables for Vickers Machine guns

Tables for Vickers Machine guns

Detail inside blockhouse

Detail inside blockhouse

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