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World War II Pillbox at Eastney Beach

A Grade II Listed Building in Eastney and Craneswater, City of Portsmouth

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.7858 / 50°47'8"N

Longitude: -1.0447 / 1°2'41"W

OS Eastings: 467435

OS Northings: 98904

OS Grid: SZ674989

Mapcode National: GBR VZD.W3

Mapcode Global: FRA 87P0.JSV

Entry Name: World War II Pillbox at Eastney Beach

Listing Date: 14 June 2013

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1414216

Location: Portsmouth, PO4

County: City of Portsmouth

Electoral Ward/Division: Eastney and Craneswater

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Portsmouth

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hampshire

Church of England Parish: Milton St James

Church of England Diocese: Portsmouth

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Summary

Pillbox, probably built in the summer of 1940.

Description

MATERIALS: stone blocks with a reinforced concrete roof.

PLAN: rectangular, orientated east-west. The long sides are 5.6m in length and the short sides 5.1m.

DESCRIPTION: the pillbox is set on a mound above a low concrete wall, overlooking the tank traps on the beach to the south. On the south elevation the roof is supported on steel joists, possibly originally railway tracks, laid along the top of the wall. Originally there were six loopholes on this side but only the three eastern ones survive due to damage to the stonework (all loopholes are now blocked apart from those on the west side). The east elevation has a central entrance (now blocked and originally protected by a half-height blast wall which has been demolished) flanked by two pairs of loopholes. The northern and western elevations each have six loopholes. The western elevation is adjoined by a post-war public toilet which is not of special interest. The condition of the interior is not known.

History

The pillbox at Eastney Beach was presumably built in conjunction with the anti-tank concrete cubes which were laid out on the beach in the summer of 1940, as part of the anti-invasion defences of Portsmouth. The pillbox is a non-standard design probably designed and manned by the Royal Marines (the Admiralty being responsible for Portsmouth's anti-invasion defences) and was sited to cover part of the beach between the C18 and C19 coastal defences of Fort Cumberland to the east and the C19 Eastney Fort East to the west. Eastney Fort East had extra defences, including a machine gun post on the shore, added at this time. The pillbox was built within the grounds of the Royal Marine swimming pool, on the site of an earlier beachfront structure shown on the 1933 Ordnance Survey map. It is unusual in being constructed of stone blocks rather than concrete, probably to blend in better with other buildings along the shore. The blast wall which originally protected the entrance was removed at the start of the C21 and the entrance and embrasures were blocked for health and safety reasons.

Reasons for Listing

The World War II pillbox on Eastney Beach, Portsmouth, probably built in the summer of 1940 as part of the anti-invasion defences to the south of the city, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Rarity: the pillbox is a rare variant World War II pillbox design probably built by the Royal Marines, few examples of which are known to survive;
* Design and materials: it is unusual for its stone block construction, multiple embrasures and relatively large size;
* Historical interest: as well as being an element of the anti-invasion defences erected in 1940 to protect the foreshore to the south of the city, it forms part of the long history of the fortifications around the Portsmouth dockyards;
* Group value: it groups with the Grade II listed anti-tank blocks which it overlooks and with the scheduled and listed C19 Eastney batteries to the west and C18 Fort Cumberland to the east.

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