This page lists many of the military pillboxes and some other (mainly) wartime remnants found in situ and on the beach along the coast of the East Riding of Yorkshire south of Bridlington, the greater part of which is called Holderness. Entries are presented from north to south.
Because of their ease of recognition and relative durability, such structures are convenient for illustrating the extent of coastal erosion as well as changes to the beach.
Pillboxes in the list are often of the lozenge type, a design specific to the north-east of England. Other structures are described accordingly.
UK Grid Reference Finder helps in locating a listed item. Copy/paste the TA sequence – letters and numbers – into the Grid Reference box on the finder page, and press Go.
Most entries include a reference in square brackets as used in the Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey.
TA 21035 69182 [BR24] on golf course
TA 19807 68411 [BR65] eared pillbox, remains on beach
Wilsthorpe / Carnaby
TA 16668 64393 [CA5/CA7] in field
TA 16791 64159 [CA10] corner of field
TA 17064 63719 [CA24] eared pillbox, cliff face
TA 16770 63680 [CA27] in field
TA 17034 63349 [CA33, ‘Earwig Villa’] eared pillbox, almost on beach, resting against anti-tank wall (see Chris Kolonko)
TA 17029 63292 [CA34] beach light, on beach
TA 16724 63172 [BA3] side of field
TA 16987 63607 to TA 16956 63320 row (290 metres in length) of six square pillboxes
TA 17029 63292 [CA34]
During World War Two, the low-lying coastline from Bridlington to Barmston was extensively prepared for resisting enemy invasion. Anti-tank blocks were placed at the foot of dunes or the cliff to form a continuous line, with pillboxes and other structures positioned behind.
Surviving military material marks the course of the upper beach as it was in 1941. The line curves steadily away as cliff loss increases southward down the coast – see map‑chart.
Viewed from pillbox CA33, the picture shows a concrete housing for a light by which to illuminate the beach in the event of a night-time attack. Cliff retreat is apparent [28 June 2018].
TA 16868 62781 square pillbox [BA10] in enclosure on east side of Auburn Farm
TA 17027 62723 split base and collapsed remains of eared pillbox, on beach
(see Alex Francon)
TA 16855 62692 square pillbox [BA19] in field south-east of Auburn Farm
TA 16727 62639 square pillbox [BA22] in field south of Auburn Farm
TA 16898 62309 paired square pillboxes [BA30] opposite sides of dyke
TA 17012 62098 collapsed remains of an eared pillbox, on beach
TA 17013 62050 [BA34] beach searchlight, on beach
TA 17013 62050 [BA34]
Another beach light. This piece, originally at the cliff, lies almost 70 metres out [28 June 2018].
TA 170( ) 620( )
The coast between Auburn and Earls Dyke once featured dunes, reported as long-established. As elsewhere, anti-tank blocks were laid down in 1941, at the line of the dunes.
Towards the end of the decade, wave action washed the dunes away. The gap left by removal is shown in this picture, taken during the Valentin survey, 1952.
TA 16984 61308 collapsed remains of eared pillbox, on beach
TA 16616 61275 [BA67] in field
TA 16880 61149 [BA74] square pillbox 12 metres inland of BA75
TA 16892 61148 [BA75] cliff top
Barmston, north of
TA 16869 60687 square pillbox 22 metres inland of BA84
TA 16891 60685 [BA84] cliff top
TA 17021 60545 [BA89] collapsed remains of eared pillbox, on beach
TA 16426 60475 [BA90] in field
TA 16735 60229 [BA94] square pillbox, in field
TA 16443 59939 [BA104] side of field
TA 16737 59700 [BA111] in field on former field boundary
TA 16923 59613 [BA118] in field, plus square pillbox 46 metres to south
TA 16891 60685 [BA84]
Pillbox BA84 is one a handful of pillboxes that currently sit near the edge of the cliff. (Directly 466 metres to the north and sharing the same orientation, pillbox BA75 is in an almost identical situation.)
In the background, the line of anti-tank blocks indicates the scale of cliff recession since the pillbox was put up in the early 1940s [22 September 2017].
Blocks and the remains of other military structures sited in the approaches to Barmston were recycled around 1978, this time to serve as a defence against the waves – see Sands Lane.
Barmston, south of
TA 17048 58842 [BA152] in field
TA 17100 58595 [UL2] by side of drain
Barmston Outfall, south of
TA 17073 58484 [UL3] in field
TA 17207 58220 [UL72] cliff top
TA 17121 58071 [UL11] in field
TA 17207 58220 [UL72] – 1
Seen here also at the cliff edge, this pillbox formerly served as a measuring point during the erosion post era of monitoring cliff recession.
Between 1952 and 2010 (59 years), a loss was recorded of 104.84 metres, an average of 1.78 metres per year.
The cliffs at this location are subject to differential erosion of till units, and a clay shelf is evident [22 September 2017].
TA 17207 58220 [UL72] – 2
Scaling rod is one metre overall.
TA 17394 57505 [UL38] edge of cliff in caravan park
TA 17414 56776 [UL58] in field
TA 17394 57505 [UL38] – 1
The arrow marks the location, lost under a mass of vegetation and about 15 metres from the cliff, of the pillbox at Seaside Caravan Park [Google Earth historical: 2003].
TA 17394 57505 [UL38] – 2
Pillbox with enveloping material gone, at the cliff edge [4 December 2013].
The structure has since been demolished and the debris removed.
TA 17407 56350 [UL65] caravan park
Skipsea, south of
TA 17725 55769 [SK3] in field
TA 17902 55467 [SK8] in field
Skipsea, Cliff Road
TA 17969 55174 [SK13] between road and field
TA 18059 54730 [SK50] square pillbox at side of dyke
TA 18072 54632 [SK18] in field
TA 18395 54466 [SK63] square pillbox in field
TA 17937 54409 [SK33] in field
TA 17873 53950 [SK40] in field
TA 18730 52740 [AT3] in caravan park
TA 18940 52204 [AT11] in field
Atwick, north of
TA 19286 51981 concrete base, on beach
TA 19286 51981
Not a wartime remnant but once part of a North Sea gas facility constructed at the cliff top 1973 to 1975 and extended in 1983 [26 May 2013].
Atwick, Long Lane
TA 19459 51248 [AT23] in field
Atwick (behind Long Lane)
TA 18997 51781 [AT18] in field
TA 19384 51155 [AT24] rectangular, in field
Atwick, south of
TA 19654 50756 [AT49] caravan park
TA 19767 50409 [AT58] in field
TA 19785 50395 [AT59] in field
TA 20108 48553 [HO28] housing estate
TA 19866 48259 [HO38] behind bowling club
TA 19691 48134 [HO41] gardening allotments
TA 20875 47095 [HO117] behind caravan park, Hornsea Burton
TA 19632 46432 south of Hornsea Mere
TA 22553 44212 [MA24] in village
TA 22553 44212 [MA24]
Although the pillbox at Mappleton is close to the cliff edge, coastal defences protect it into the foreseeable future [5 October 2013].
Cowden, opposite MoD site
TA 23845 42184 (main piece) fragments of structures on beach
TA 23871 42100 [MA73] fragments of structures on beach
TA 24147 41721 [MA74] brickwork remnants
See Great Colden page.
TA 24204 41588 brickwork structure
TA 24147 41721 [MA74]
Beach walkers approach a military remnant south of Cowden [12 July 2017].
TA 24204 41588 – 1
The newly descended piece was originally positioned within the MoD site at TA 24193 41578. Scaling rod is approximately one metre overall length [12 July 2017].
TA 24204 41588 – 2
Markings made during construction can often be found on military items. The inscription on the upper surface of this piece reads:
23 1 43 F. EVINGTON
TA 25499 39599 [AL10] farmyard
TA 25940 38913 [AL30] in field
TA 26341 38627 [AL60] on beach
TA 26427 38565 [AL39] on beach
TA 26557 38600 [AL63] on beach
TA 26636 38061 [AL44] former car park
Two of the East Newton boxes were erected close to each other. In the satellite imagery, both structures are seen 27 metres back from the cliff edge [Google Earth historical: 2003].
TA 26341 38627 [AL60] – 1
The larger unit served as a generator room for the Chain Home Low (CHL) radar network. Before the cliff line receded, it was used as an animal shelter.
Overlooking the edge [10 June 2012].
(TA 26341 38627) [AL60] – 2
Descent to the beach was steady at first...
(TA 26341 38627) [AL60] – 3
...although the angle was steep [16 February 2014].
(TA 26341 38627) [AL60] – 4
Movement was brought to a temporary halt partly as a result of cliff material being pushed and accumulating before the unit [3 August 2016].
(TA 26341 38627) [AL60] – 5
In all, the journey from land to sand took nearly seven years. Since arrival at the beach, the frontal section has been lost [14 February 2019].
TA 26427 38565 [AL39] – 1
Pillbox begins a slide down the cliff [5 May 2012].
TA 26427 38565 [AL39] – 2
Almost on the beach. The slide path indicates a deflection (towards the camera) round a snout at the foot of the cliff [10 June 2012].
The start of the descent of the pillbox from its original position is captured in the lower half of the Sea Field Project gallery.
TA 26427 38565 [AL39] – 3
Taken days before the tidal surge of December 2013, the picture shows a full, sandy beach [27 November 2013].
TA 26427 38565 [AL39] – 4
A few winter weeks later and the upper beach is completely removed to expose the clay platform. In the background, the neighbouring CHL unit can be seen part way on its slide down the cliff [16 February 2014].
TA 26427 38565 [AL39] – 5
The most vulnerable part of a pillbox of the lozenge type is the L-shaped (anti-)blast wall designed to protect the entrance during enemy attack. If the wall is not broken off on the way down the cliff then it is unlikely to remain attached for long under pounding by the waves [16 February 2014].
TA 26427 38565 [AL39] – 6
Every pillbox picture gallery begs an interior shot. The central wall of the unit not only supports the roof but helps protect occupants from ricochet. Beach sediment fills the inside almost to the embrasures (openings from which to fire a weapon) [16 February 2014].
TA 26557 38600 [AL63]
Identified as the remains of a beach searchlight housing, the piece is 159 metres from the foot of the cliff. Units AL39 and – to the right – AL60 are in the background [19 August 2019].
TA 26636 38061 [AL44]
Guardian of the car park at East Newton [27 November 2013].
The car park is now closed and inaccessible to vehicles.
TA 27329 37265 [part of AL52]
tower (battery observation post) on beach
See Ringbrough page.
Ringbrough Farm (site of)
TA 27245 37189 [AL55] by side of entrance
Ringbrough, south of
TA 27821 36542 [possibly part of EG1] on beach
TA 27821 36542 – 1
In its descent, the Beacon Hill pillbox south of Ringbrough moved to seaward by some 30 metres as it followed the slope of the receding cliff face [Google Earth historical: 2007].
TA 27821 36542 – 2
The structure is recently deposited at the foot of the cliff, capped by a thin mat of vegetation, blast wall attached. A mudflow oozes round it on to a low beach [5 May 2012].
TA 27821 36542 – 3
A year and a day later. The blast wall is now detached and lies somewhere under high sand [6 May 2013].
TA 27821 36542 – 4
Dimensions of entrance (4ftx2ft). Beacon Hill refers to the former cliff top location of the pillbox (see Paul Glazzard) [14 July 2014].
TA 27821 36542 – 5
Another low beach reveals the fallen blast wall. The platform which once supported the wall is now separated from the rest of the base and has dropped slightly [22 September 2014].
TA 28753 34940 [EG27] in copse
TA 29063 34347 [RO6] in field
TA 29827 33777 [RO11] on beach
TA 29827 33777 [RO11] – 1
The southermost Hilston pillbox at the edge of the cliff, by the side of Pastures Lane [Google Earth historical: 2003].
TA 29827 33777 [RO11] – 2
Linear displacement after arrival on the beach is about 27 metres.
A slight change of orientation is noticed. The blast wall has become detached and lies some 17 metres distant.
The ‘tail’ in the image is in fact a corner of the concrete base partly in shadow [Google Earth historical: 7 May 2007].
TA 29827 33777 [RO11] – 3
The structure sits on a thin beach after further positional disturbance, caused by wave action.
As with some other pillboxes, the entrance was sealed possibly on decommissioning, though the blockwork here is disintegrating [17 September 2011].
TA 29827 33777 [RO11] – 4
In this picture, the pillbox is largely buried by a high beach [28 September 2013].
TA 29827 33777 [RO11] – 5
TA 29827 33777 [RO11] – 6
Intact but exposed on another thin beach [22 September 2016].
TA 29827 33777 [RO11] – 7
One year on, and Hilston beach pillbox is no more, the collapsed sections reduced to dispersing fragments [2 September 2017].
TA 29827 33777 [RO11] – 8
From the beach [2 September 2017].
TA 29827 33777 [RO11] – 9
An oblique aerial photograph, taken ten years after installation, offers an idea of the earlier setting of the pillbox, and of coastal loss. RO11 is situated approximately 73 metres inland from the cliff edge [17 June 1951].
The cliff-parallel section of Pastures Lane is now completely gone.
TA 30162 32894 [RO33] boundary between fields
TA 31192 31960 [RO46/RO55] cliff top
TA 30817 31657 [RO63] hedgerow between fields
TA 31192 31960 [RO46/RO55] – 1
On top of a (locally) standard lozenge pillbox sits an additional structure dating from the Cold War. This is an Orlit post, named after the manufacturer and erected by the Royal Observer Corps [24 September 2011].
TA 31192 31960 [RO46/RO55] – 2
Part of the superstructure has collapsed. The cliff edge is 7.2 metres from the pillbox [12 November 2018].
TA 31682 31305 [RO77] end of Seaside Lane
TA 31668 31012 [RO96] boundary between fields
TA 32121 30904 [RM9] beach searchlight, on beach
TA 31995 30717 [RM12] boundary between fields
TA 32121 30904 [RM9] – 1
Military defence preparations at the low-lying site of a mere were extensive – see Austin J Ruddy. Much has been lost to coastal erosion, either directly or through recycling of concrete blocks to protect the cliffs.
A beach light emplacement survives, pictured at low tide surrounded by deep scour, some 106 metres from the cliff foot [26 February 2021].
TA 32121 30904 [RM9] – 2
The same piece on a previous occasion, less available but more accessible [29 September 2012].
TA 33037 29355 [RM39] corner of field
TA 35706 26051 [HL10] on beach
TA 35706 26051 [HL10] – 1
Hollym pillbox lying 14 metres inland from the cliff line [Google Earth historical: 2003]. Within five years it was at the cliff edge (see Paul Glazzard).
TA 35706 26051 [HL10] – 2
Distance from the foot of the cliff is stepped out at 140 feet (about 42.5 metres) [3 September 2012].
TA 35706 26051 [HL10] – 3
Pillbox with detached blast wall [16 November 2017].
Holmpton, The Runnell
TA 36678 24686 [HM3] mouth of dyke
TA 36678 24686 [HM3] – 1
The Runnell, once known as Nevills Drain, Holmpton [20 April 2013].
TA 36678 24686 [HM3] – 2
Erected inland, the pillbox later partially slipped into the dyke and will soon be on the beach [21 September 2020].
Holmpton, Seaside Road
TA 36822 24765 [HM1] group of anti-tank blocks, on beach
TA 36986 24570 beach searchlight, on beach
TA 36834 24536 [HM5] gunnery markers shelter (fragmented)
TA 36961 24316 [HM10/HM16] cliff top
TA 37190 23990 [HM21] side of road, within dense growth
TA 36822 24765 [HM1]
Anti-tank blocks originally positioned across the mouth of The Runnell are currently some 165 metres from the cliff [21 September 2020].
TA 36986 24570 [possibly HM4]
Remains of a beach searchlight. The piece lies 255 metres south-east of the HM1 anti-tank blocks, and at a similar distance to them from the cliff [21 September 2020].
TA 36834 24536 [HM5] – 1
This unusual building was constructed – originally quite some metres from the cliff – to protect markers who were tasked to count hits on targets at the wartime Holmpton air-to-ground gunnery range [picture by Paul Glazzard: 19 November, 2006, with thanks to Peter Kirk of Kent for information].
TA 36834 24536 [HM5] – 2
Coastal erosion catches up. A corner piece and what appears to be the roof, inverted, on a beach mostly stripped of cover [10 May 2017].
TA 36834 24536 [HM5] – 2
Other remnants may be found downdrift of the site [20 April 2019].
TA 36961 24316 [HM10/HM16]
Google Earth historical places the structure at 44.5 metres from the edge of the cliff in 2003. For this picture, the distance is down to 10 metres [20 April 2019].
Holmpton, Old Hive
TA 38077 23029 fragment near mouth of dyke
TA 38077 23029 – 1
Even smaller pieces can be useful as reference markers for observing beach changes.
Against a nearshore sea turned brown by eroded clay held in suspension, the fragment serves as a rest point [31 August 2013].
TA 38077 23029 – 2
Beach level in this picture is lowered by a metre [30 May 2015].
During 2016 and 2017 the piece was completely covered by sand and not visible.
TA 38077 23029 – 3
The fragment viewed from the approximate position of the cliff line when the original structure was built. It would have been installed on the south side of the Old Hive dyke, seen behind [29 June 2019].
Dimlington High Land
TA 38968 21879 (centre) [EA30] on beach
Dimlington High Land was chosen in the early years of the Second World War as a location for Chain Home Extra Low (CHEL) radar detection equipment.
The station included various huts and a steel lattice tower carrying a scanner. Nothing survives of the installation except for four large concrete blocks on which the tower was mounted.
Google Earth historical shows three of the blocks on the beach at the foot of the cliff by 2003. For convenience of reference, they became The Three Sisters.
The fourth block remained in situ for another ten years or so before descending the cliff.
As with other examples, the mounts assist in observing coastal changes.
TA 38968 21879 [EA30] – 1
A low beach exposes the blocks almost entirely. Accompanying mudballs are a sign of active cliff erosion [12 May 2012].
TA 38968 21879 [EA30] – 2
Here, the beach has a moderate cover overlain by cross-shore shingle [3 September 2012].
TA 38968 21879 [EA30] – 3
A runnel passes round the base of the nearest block while a sand ridge occupies the foreground. These identify a beach feature known as an ord system. Upper beach shingle is cliff-parallel [31 August 2013].
TA 38968 21879 [EA30] – 4
Maintaining position [3 April 2013].
TA 38968 21879 [EA30] – 5
Descent, though, is inevitable [1 June 2017].
TA 38968 21879 [EA30] – 6
The fourth (centre, nearest cliff) belatedly joins the other three. A high beach level conceals the full shape of the mounts [29 June 2019].
TA 38968 21879 [EA30] – 7
This sister has teeth! [29 June 2019].
TA 40791 18921 [EA90] on beach
TA 40791 18921 [EA90] – 1
Showing signs of wear but still intact, the Easington south pillbox is seen here located about 87 metres from the cliff. Marine growth may initially make the image seem slightly out of focus. In the background at the right of the picture is part of the Easington gas terminal [2 January 2014].
TA 40791 18921 [EA90] – 2
Picture taken by Cecil Wright Mason, the same pillbox perilously overhangs the cliff at ‘Lane End’ (Seaside Road). Although clearly a lozenge type, modifications are apparent [11 March 1950].
Easington, south of
TA 40860 18535 [EA100] on beach
TA 40860 18535 [EA100] – 1
Pillbox perched broadside to the edge of the cliff [Google Earth: 2003].
TA 40860 18535 [EA100] – 2
Toppling rather than sliding, the structure arrived on the beach in an inverted position [2 January 2014].
TA 40860 18535 [EA100] – 3
The base has collapsed into the shell [2 January 2014].
TA 40860 18535 [EA100] – 4
Over seven years on, the back section has broken away. Remains are almost buried by a high beach level [16 June 2021].
TA 40979 17723 [EA126] by side of lagoon
TA 40986 17440 [EA141] on bank
Kilnsea, north of
TA 40452 16808 [EA160] by side of dyke
TA 41064 16643 [EA164] accoustic mirror, concrete
TA 40953 15792 [EA198] on bank of estuary at bend in road
TA 40953 15792 [EA198]
Only the blast wall retains original position as the pillbox at Kilnsea slips to the shore of the Humber estuary. Curving away in the distance is the Spurn peninsula [11 August 2014].
Godwin Battery, Kilnsea
TA 41374 16206 [EA175] west of battery, in copse
TA 41745 16080 various structures, mostly on beach
See Godwin Battery, Kilnsea page.
Spurn Nature Reserve
TA 41676 15373 [EA211] estuary side of road
(Installations at the tip of Spurn not included.)
Text and pictures (unless otherwise captioned) by Brian Williams.