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Pillbox and Anti-Tank Pimple to West of Knoll Beach Car Park, Purbeck

Description: Pillbox and Anti-Tank Pimple to West of Knoll Beach Car Park

Grade: II
Date Listed: 30 November 2012
Building ID: 1411821

OS Grid Reference: SZ0324683519
OS Grid Coordinates: 403260, 83559
Latitude/Longitude: 50.6517, -1.9552

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

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Listing Text


Pillbox of variant form and a single anti-tank pimple to the west of Knoll Beach car park. Erected in c.1940 as components of the anti-invasion coastal defences of Studland Bay.

Reason for Listing

The pillbox and anti-tank cube west of Knoll Beach car park are 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 and anti-tank block provide a visual reminder of the impact of world events on the area;
* Group value: they form 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 By April 1941, it had been replaced by the 1st Bn.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.

On the western edge of Knoll Beach car park is a pillbox which overlooks the beach and a single anti-tank pimple which is the sole survivor of a line of anti-tank defences.


MATERIAL: reinforced, shuttered concrete.

DESCRIPTION: the pillbox is constructed of concrete using vertical wooden shuttering and is an irregular hexagon on plan. It stands on a large concrete plinth. There are embrasures to the east, north-east and south-east sides and an entrance to the west side; all have been sealed with concrete to prevent access. The anti-tank pimple to the south-west survives from a line of defensive blocks that were erected across the trackway. It has a pyramidal top and retains some of its original camouflage paint.

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