Norfolk Roundhouses of the Great War

Norfolk’s WW1 Silent Sentinels

One of the unique styles of WW1 Pillbox in Norfolk. This one can be found on the Bacton Road.

One of the unique styles of WW1 Pillbox in Norfolk. This one can be found on the Bacton Road.

As you travel around Norfolk you will see the signs of the defences built in the Second World War that were erected in order to stop a German invasion of England. However, if you look harder, you will also see defences dotted around the county that were built in the Great War, although they are often mistaken for their more prolific SecondWorld War counterparts.

Believe it or not the threat of a seaborne invasion by Germany was taken very seriously. Defences designed to thwart invasion were constructed along the Norfolk coast and continued inland, often following the course of local rivers and many still exist today.

The WW1 pillbox on the Bacton Road looking towards the road it would have defended.

The WW1 pillbox on the Bacton Road with its entrance which still has the doors on it!

A WW1 pillbox at Aylmerton defending the Holt Road.

 

In January 1916 it was estimated that Germany might be able to land up to 160,000 men on the East Coast. Although it was thought unlikely defences were put in place and in Norfolk a defence line was placed along the River Ant. Pillboxes sprung up from Stiffkey along the coast and then joined up with the River Ant at Bradfield. Other examples can be seen dotted along the North Walsham – Dilham Canal.

There are three types of them in Norfolk. The first is an emplacement built from poured concrete, the only example being at Breydon Water, and now lost because it’s buried because of dredging. The second type is hexangonal in shape, often confused as a WW2 variant, and there are two examples situated on the Acle Straight close to Vauxhall.

The third type, which is covered in this blog is circular, made of concrete blocks, and are the main types you will see. Many of them still have their thick steel doors on them and have loopholes positioned at different levels. There is even one of them that has graffiti which dated to July 1918 and was made by someone serving in the Royal Engineers!

Steel doors still attached to a WW1 pillbox.

Steel doors still attached to a WW1 pillbox.

WW1 graffiti on a pillbox at Sea Palling.

WW1 graffiti on a pillbox at Sea Palling.

Part of the interior of the Aylmerton pillbox.

Part of the interior of the Aylmerton pillbox.

Spot the WW1 pillbox!

Spot the WW1 pillbox!

 

 

 

 

So as you travel around the county keep an eye out for these ‘Silent Sentinels’ from the Great War because they are a unique time capsule to that time.

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2 thoughts on “Norfolk Roundhouses of the Great War

  1. There’s also a forth type along the ant, half moon shaped!!! Very rare, possibly the only one in the world??? Has steel doors and shutters..

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