Shellproof FW3/24 Rescue Archaeology


March 2008 saw myself and PSG member Tim Burt meet up to work on an overgrown Type 24. I had worked on an adjacent example at the beginning of January 2008 and as an on going project it enabled me to show PSG members a ‘cleaned off’ example during the  PSG annual walk in February. This GHQ line A shell proof example was built for site and is dug in on private land next to the Basingstoke Canal in North Hampshire , its rear has a brick walled trench that has now subsided and collapsed within the doorway partially protected the entrance, the escape trench runs out twenty feet or so into the woods.

The pillbox was covered in ivy and small trees that had taken root in the leaf mould covered roof, this had also covered the chamfered roofline, loopholes and outer walls.Removing the vegetation was time consuming and tiring, much of the roof blanket covering was removed in large section as if rolling up a rug or carpet, the outer walls were scrapped free of their growth and given a brush.

After about three hours our work was more or less complete we finished off the job by brushing the roof clean, the defence is now exposed and can be studied in more detail.The shellproof walls are 51″ thick and the overall measurement across the wide rear wall is 232″, parts of remaining flame proof flaps can still be found in some of the cast embrasures.Set in the perimeter of the roof edge, and into the rear walls are numerous camouflage net retaining hooks, close examination of the ground and undergrowth surrounding the pillbox produced at least a dozen or so short metal picket pegs still set in the soil. Internally the Type 24 is in good condition and does not suffer from water ingress; two small metal drains can be seen set into the floor. A few weeks after completion rainfall washed the roof clean exposing a gravel finish, this would have helped reduce reflections from aerial view thus helping to camouflage the pillbox.

By Tim Denton

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Defence Structures and sites of all types both above and below ground can be very dangerous. Serious injury or even death can arise from unauthorised entry into such sites and structures. Join a responsible club, group or society who can arrange official visits. The Pillbox Study Group accepts no responsibility for any damages or injuries caused by ignoring this advice. The PSG does not encourage members to undertake the ad hoc clearance of vegetation from pillboxes, as it can expose them to physical damage and inappropriate use, it may also contravene a variety of statutory regulations including, listed buildings and SSSI designations. Vegetation clearance should only ever be undertaken as part of a formal arrangement, having sought and obtained permission from the land owner and other necessary authorities. Damaging a listed or scheduled monument can be considered as a Heritage Crime.

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