In the early Second World War – being 1939 or 1940, a total of nine pillboxes, along with other defenses and bunkers, were built across Canvey Island. Canvey Island formed the start of the first line of defense against an invasion coming towards Western England from the Germans. This line is known as the GHQ line, and was intended to mainly protect factories producing equipment which was needed to keep Britain fit and fighting.
Today, only one or two WW2 structures remain on the island, plus the final out of the nine pillboxes. The other eight were demolished upon the building of the new seawall in the 1970s and 1980s. The last one, a Type FW3/98 (extremely rare in Essex) for those keen enthusiasts, stands today off of Haven road, on the side of the new Roscommon Way extension.
This extension has done the pillbox nothing but a good revitalization, as it previously was partially engulfed by trees and bushes. What is also good now, is that you can follow the roadside path to access it, rather than having to go leaping over barbed wire fences to say the least. Before I was truly into Canvey’s history and remains, I visited the pillbox in what must have been 2009. It had much litter inside it, from a mattress, to the bones of an animal. Now, the inside has been cleaned out, and the bushes which obstructed it removed. It now stands in excellent condition, maintaining all outer layers, unlike many of today’s pillboxes. It’s entrance has now been neatly sealed off with a green wire mesh, which could be seen as either a bad or good thing. Although it means we won’t be able to gain access, it does mean that it will be protected from vandals and litter on the inside.
One thing to note for those who don’t know much about pillboxes, is that the average-sized holes, called loops, would be too small to house a ‘stereotype’, massive, belt-fed machine gun capable of cutting down hordes of approaching enemies. Instead, the average British pillbox was designed to be used to fire only a rifle or light machine gun (a machine gun which could be fired on the move by a single man). Those which could house a machine gun of a bigger sort, the Vickers machine-gun, are recognizable by having very large rectangular holes in them, with ‘stepped’ sides.
Finally some nice photography:
Revealing the unseen history and remains to Canvey, Castle Point, and Beyond