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Pillbox Square Type at Grid Ref 62414 36221, Tollerton

Description: Pillbox Square Type at Grid Ref 62414 36221

Grade: II
Date Listed: 30 January 2012
English Heritage Building ID: 1402048

OS Grid Reference: SK6241436221
OS Grid Coordinates: 462414, 336221
Latitude/Longitude: 52.9198, -1.0731

Locality: Tollerton
Local Authority: Rushcliffe Borough Council
County: Nottinghamshire
Country: England
Postcode: NG12 3HD

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Explore more of the area around Tollerton, Nottinghamshire at Explore Britain.

Listing Text


A second world war pillbox of c1941 which forms part of the airfield defences of Tollerton Airfield.

Reason for Listing

* Historic Interest: For the role it played in the strategic defence of Tollerton airfield during World War II.

* Group value: It has strong group value as one of 18 surviving pill boxes surrounding Tollerton Airfield.

* Rarity: It is part of an unusually large group of pillboxes which rarely survive in such numbers. It is also a particularly rare and large form of pillbox.


Tollerton airfield was first opened on June 19th 1930 by Sir Sefton Brancker, Minister of Aviation. The licence for the field had been obtained by Nottingham Corporation on July 27 1929 and was first leased to National Flying Services who erected a club house and hangar early in 1930. Nottingham Flying Club took over the airfield in September 1931 and the lease was adopted by the club’s chief flying instructor, Captain L. W. Hall.

In 1937 the Civil Air Guard was formed and a school opened at Tollerton with about 50 pupils. A Royal Air Force Training School, No 27 Elementary Reserve Flying Training School (E-RFTS), formed on June 24 1938 and training was carried out in Miles Magisters, Ansons and Hawker Harts aircraft.

With the outbreak of war the flying club closed down and the Civil Air Guard scheme disbanded, the Royal Air Force Voluntary Reserves (RAFVR) staff moved to Burnaston and the airfield was taken over by the Air Ministry for possible use by the Royal Air Force. It was immediately brought into use as a scatter field and used by the Hampdens of No’s 44 and 50 squadrons from Waddington. Airfield Services took over the existing maintenance company and the airfield became a satellite to Newton for training purposes. In early 1941 three runways were laid. A large ‘R’ Type hangar was built on the northern perimeter and a Bellman hangar on the apron. There were also many more buildings added, including stores, barracks, link trainer building, crew rooms and dispersal huts. It is not clear exactly when the pillboxes were built; nationally most were built in the early, high-intensity phase of anti-invasion works of late May to early June 1940. Confidence in the principal of fixed, heavily fortified and well armed strong posts diminished during 1941; few pillboxes were built that year and in February 1942 Home Forces issued orders to build no more.

From July 1941, No.16 Service Flying Training School (SFTS), from their parent station at Newton used the airfield with a variety of aircraft until the early part of 1946. Field Aircraft Services had been engaged in the major overhaul and repair of aircraft for Bomber Command. Field repair unit was the main role of the airfield and they engaged all the new hangars into service for repair shops.

In September 1940 Major-General Taylor, Inspector-General of Fortification at the War Office was asked to formulate a policy for the defence of airfields. The primary criterion for defences was the proximity of the airfield to a port. The only category of airfield to be given Class 1 status (the highest) without meeting this criterion were Aircraft Storage Units, since it was essential that the stock of replacement aircraft be safe-guarded. A Class 1 airfield should have 12-18 pillboxes facing outwards to repel a ground attack and a further 8-14 facing inwards to defend against one from the air. Although Tollerton didn’t meet the criteria for Class 1 status, given its role as a Field Repair Unit a considerable number of aircraft would have been stored on site and it is likely that the pillboxes here were built with this in mind.

After the war the Flying Club was reformed and blue line and Trent Valley Airlines started operations. The Ministry of Aviation set up offices with the intention of making Tollerton the official airport of Nottingham. During 1949, the small airlines closed down and the Ministry of Aviation then gave up the tenure. By the end of 1949 the Royal Air Force returned and used the airfield as a satellite to Syerston for No 22 FTS. It remained in this role until 1956 when the airfield was de-requisitioned by the Air Ministry. The following year Field Aircraft Services moved their operation to Wymeswold. The airfield was finally taken over by Trueman Aviation Ltd for the needs of private aviation.
Today most of the war time structures have been demolished, only the pillboxes, main hangar, club hangar and runways remain.


This is a Second World War pillbox of 1941 which forms part of the airfield defences of Tollerton Airfield. This pillbox is situated at OS grid reference SK63414 36221 and is one of 18 pillboxes which survive around the periphery of the air field.

Materials and Exterior
Constructed of brick with concrete lintels and a flat concrete roof, this large, shell-proof pillbox is described as 'square' but has chamfered corners so appears octagonal in plan. It is surrounded by an earthen bank which is mounded against the pillbox and survives up to 0.5m high and 0.5m wide. The top is camouflaged by a covering of turf. There is an entrance on the south side protected by a pentice, and embrasures facing towards the airfield. Each of these display stepped concrete surfaces which would have functioned as bullet stops. The walls are over 1m thick.

No internal inspection was carried out as tree growth made access problematic but it was possible to see the surviving Turnbull mountings through the embrasures.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.