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Pillbox East of Knoll House Hotel, Purbeck

Description: Pillbox East of Knoll House Hotel

Grade: II
Date Listed: 30 November 2012
Building ID: 1411815

OS Grid Reference: SZ0336683331
OS Grid Coordinates: 403366, 83331
Latitude/Longitude: 50.6497, -1.9537

Locality: Purbeck
Local Authority: Purbeck District Council
County: Dorset
Postcode: BH19 3AH

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Listing Text


A pillbox of variant form, dating from c.1940.

Reason for Listing

The pillbox, 188m east of Knoll House Hotel is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: as part of the Second World War military program of coastal defences, the pillbox provides a visual reminder of the impact of world events on the area;
* Group value: it forms an integral part of a significant group of listed Second World War anti-invasion defences which could have been one of the front lines in the event of a German invasion.


Studland Bay was one of the two stretches of Dorset coastline where a German invasion was considered most likely. In 1940, the defence of the Dorset coast was the responsibility of V Corps whose 50th Division had its headquarters at Blandford Forum. Anti-tank islands were established in towns in the area and a number of stop lines were also constructed. Anti-invasion defences were constructed along Studland Bay in response to the threat of a German invasion. Forward defended localities were established along the line of the beach at Studland and a number of pillboxes and other defensive structures were constructed. Anti-tank cubes blocked possible exits from the beach at three locations and minefields were also situated amongst the sand dunes. Most of these defences were in place by early August 1940. In October 1940, the infantry battalion in the Studland Sub-Sector (Studland Defence Area) was the 7th Bn. Suffolk Regiment. By April 1941, it had been replaced by the 1st Bn. Coldstream Guards. The Dorset Home Guard unit also manning defences at Studland was No.2 (East Purbeck) Company, 7th (Wareham) Battalion was manned by No.2 (East Purbeck) Company, 7th (Wareham) Battalion of the Home Guard.

From the autumn of 1943, Studland Bay became an amphibious assault training area as part of the preparations for D-Day on 6 June 1944, one of the most significant dates in modern history, defining the start of the final phase of World War II in Europe. Six weeks prior to D-Day, Allied troops gathered in Studland Bay to undertake three full-scale training exercises to prepare themselves for the amphibious landings that were to take place on the beaches of Normandy. The rehearsal, codenamed Exercise Smash 1, was the largest live ammunition practice of the whole war period; battle training was also carried out using the anti-invasion pillboxes erected within the Defence Area. The bay was also the scene of a major experiment to test the effectiveness of burning oil as a defence against a German seaborne invasion, known as Project Fougasse, it involved piping oil to the sea and firing it by explosive charges.

Some 188m to the east of Knoll House Hotel is a pillbox which overlooks the beach and formed part of Studland's Second World War anti-invasion defences. There has been some damage to roof and front embrasure of the pillbox which may have been caused during assault training in 1944.


MATERIALS: reinforced concrete and concrete blocks.

DESCRIPTION: it is built into the east-facing slope which leads up from the beach. Its walls and flat roof are of reinforced, concrete blocks with a solid concrete roof, while the interior is faced with breeze blocks. It is basically square in plan, but with a three-sided front face containing a large east-facing embrasure for a medium machine gun. There are further embrasures to the adjacent faces, while the rear (west) wall has a central doorway.

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