East Yorkshire coastal erosion


Created by Brian Williams in August 2013.
Last change 17 July 2018.

 East Newton car park: 27 November 2013
East Newton car park: 27th November 2013

This page lists many of the military pillboxes and some other (mainly) wartime remnants found along the coast of the East Riding of Yorkshire, in situ and on the beach, presented from north to south.

Because of their ease of recognition and relative durability, such structures where appropriately placed are convenient for illustrating the extent of coastal erosion as well as changes to the beach.

Most pillboxes in the list are of the lozenge type, a design specific to the north-east of England. Other structures are described accordingly.

UK Grid Reference Finder is a useful tool for locating a listed item. Copy/paste the TA sequence – letters and numbers – into the Grid Reference box on the finder page, and press Go.


TA 16668 64393 in field

TA 16791 64159 corner of field

TA 17064 63719 eared pillbox, cliff face


TA 17029 63292 beach searchlight, on beach

TA 17034 63349 eared pillbox, almost on beach (resting against anti-tank wall)


TA 16868 62781 Grade II listed WW1 pillbox, in enclosure on east side of Auburn Farm

TA 16727 62639 Grade II listed WW1 pillbox, in field south of Auburn Farm

TA 17027 62723 split base and collapsed remains of eared pillbox, on beach

TA 17012 62098 collapsed remains of an eared pillbox, on beach

TA 17013 62050 beach searchlight, on beach

Earls Dyke, south of

TA 16616 61275 in field

TA 16735 60229 square pillbox, in field

TA 16892 61148 cliff top, plus square pillbox 12m inland

Barmston, north of

TA 16892 60683 cliff top, plus square pillbox 22m inland

TA 16426 60475 in field

TA 16443 59939 side of field

TA 16737 59700 in field

TA 16923 59613 in field

Barmston, south of

TA 17048 58842 in field

Barmston Outfall

TA 17100 58595 by side of drain

Barmston Outfall, south of

TA 17073 58484 in field

TA 17207 58220 cliff top

TA 17121 58071 in field

 pillbox south of Barmston outfall, at cliff edge: 22 September 2017
 pillbox south of Barmston outfall, at cliff edge: 22 September 2017

The pillbox pictured at the cliff edge on 22nd September 2017 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 scaling rod is approximately one metre overall.


TA 17394 57505 edge of cliff in caravan park

TA 17414 56776 in field

 Ulrome caravan park pillbox (Google Earth): 1 January 2003
 Ulrome caravan park pillbox: 4 December 2013

The arrow marks the location, lost under a mass of vegetation and about 15 metres from the cliff, of the pillbox at Ulrome Seaside caravan park in 2003.

Taken 4th December 2013, the picture positions the same pillbox, with enveloping material gone, at the cliff edge.

This structure has since been demolished and the debris removed.

Skipsea, south of

TA 17725 55769 in field

TA 17902 55467 in field

Skipsea, Cliff Road

TA 17969 55174 between road and field

Skipsea Withow

TA 18072 54632 in field


TA 18940 52204 in field

Atwick, north of

TA 19286 51981 concrete base, on beach

Atwick (end of Long Lane)

TA 19459 51248 in field

Atwick (behind Long Lane)

TA 19384 51155 rectangular, in field

Atwick, south of

TA 19654 50756 caravan park

TA 19785 50395 in field

Hornsea north

TA 19691 48134 gardening allotments

TA 19855 48258 behind bowling club


TA 22553 44212 in village

 Mappleton village pillbox: 5 October 2013

Although the pillbox at Mappleton is close to the cliff edge, defence works protect it into the foreseeable future.

Cowden, south of

TA 23845 42184 (main piece) fragments of structures on beach

TA 24147 41721 brickwork remnant

See Great Colden page.

TA 24204 41588 brickwork structure

 brickwork structure, Cowden MoD site: 12 July 2017
 brickwork structure, Cowden MoD site (inscription): 12 July 2017

The newly descended piece, not fully on the beach when the picture was taken on 12 July 2017, was originally positioned within the MoD site. Propped against it is a scaling rod, approximately one metre in overall length.

On the top of the main section is an inscription which indicates a date of construction:
23 1 43 F. EVINGTON.

East Newton

TA 25940 38913 in field

TA 26636 38061 car park

(TA 26341 38627) sliding down cliff

TA 26411 38550 on beach

 East Newton pillboxes (Google Earth): 1 January 2003
 beach at East Newton: 27 November 2013
 beach at East Newton: 16 February 2014

Two of the four East Newton boxes were erected close to each other, one being a larger departure from the more common ‘lozenge’ type, its function being different.

In satellite imagery dated early 2003, both structures are seen 27 metres back from the cliff edge. The southernmost unit descended the cliff in 2011-2012 (see Ringbrough and lower page at Sea Field Project).

The above photographs demonstrate how a pillbox can be used for noting beach changes. Taken on 27th November 2013, the first picture shows a full, sandy beach.

Compare this with the scene in the second picture, from 16th February 2014, where the upper beach is completely removed to expose the clay platform. In the background, the larger unit can be seen on its descent to the beach.

Video of storm waves breaking over East Newton pillbox on beach (06/12/13):

Windows Media Player (.wmv) QuickTime (.mov) tablet (.mp4)


TA 27329 37265 tower on beach

See Ringbrough page.

Ringbrough Farm (site of)

TA 27245 37189 by side of entrance

Ringbrough, south of

TA 27821 36542 on beach

 Ringbrough south pillbox (Google Earth): 7 May 2007
 Ringbrough south pillbox: 5 May 2012
 Ringbrough south pillbox: 6 May 2013
 Ringbrough south pillbox: 22 September 2014

In its descent, the pillbox south of Ringbrough moved to seaward, by some 30 metres, as it followed the slope of the receding cliff face.

Picture top right shows the structure 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. The date is 5th May 2012.

Bottom left, a year and a day later. The blast wall is now detached and lies somewhere under high sand.

Another low beach, on 22nd September 2014, reveals the fallen blast wall. The ‘doorstep’, once supporting the wall, is now separated from the rest of the base and has dropped slightly.


TA 28753 34940 in copse


TA 29063 34347 in field

TA 29827 33777 on beach

 Hilston pillbox (Google Earth): 1 January 2003
 Hilston pillbox (Google Earth): 7 May 2007
 Hilston pillbox: 17 September 2011
 Hilston pillbox: 28 September 2013
 Hilston pillbox: 22 September 2016
 Hilston pillbox: 2 September 2017

Similarities to the record at Ringbrough south.

Top row: Satellite imagery depicts the southernmost Hilston pillbox at the cliff edge in 2003 and, using the same frame of reference, its arrival on the beach after cliff recession (image date May 2007).

Linear displacement is about 27 metres. A slight change of orientation is apparent. The blast wall, designed to protect the entrance, has become detached and lies some 14 metres distance. (The ‘tail’ in the image is in fact a corner of the concrete base partly in shadow.)

Middle row: The picture at left, taken 17th September 2011, sees the structure sitting on a thin beach after further positional disturbance, this time by wave action. To the right, on 28th September 2013, the pillbox is largely buried.

Bottom row: Intact but vulnerable on another thin beach, 22nd September 2016. One year on, and Hilston beach pillbox is no more, the collapsed sections reduced to dispersing fragments, 2nd September 2017.


TA 30162 32894 boundary between fields

TA 31192 31960 cliff top


TA 31682 31305 end of Seaside Lane

TA 31668 31012 boundary between fields

TA 31995 30717 boundary between fields


TA 33033 29359 corner of field


TA 35706 26051 on beach

 Hollym pillbox (Google Earth): 1 January 2003
 Hollym pillbox: 3 September 2012

At the beginning of 2003 the Hollym pillbox lay 13 metres inland from the cliff line and by 2008 was at the cliff edge. On 3rd September 2012 the distance from its position on the beach to the cliff base was stepped out at 140 feet (about 42.5 metres).

Holmpton, The Runnell

TA 36678 24686 mouth of dyke

 The Runnell, Holmpton pillbox (Google Earth): 1 January 2003
 The Runnell, Holmpton pillbox: 20 April 2013

Satellite imagery dated 01/01/2003 places the pillbox 39 metres behind the mouth of the dyke. In spring 2013 the tilted structure could be seen about to be deposited on to the beach.

Holmpton, Seaside Road

TA 36961 24316 cliff top

Holmpton, Old Hive

TA 38077 23029 fragment at mouth of dyke

 Holmpton, Old Hive, fragment: 31 August 2013
 Holmpton, Old Hive, fragment: 30 May 2015

Even smaller pieces such as this can be useful as reference markers for noting beach changes. In the left picture, from 31st August 2013, the fragment serves as a rest point. The nearshore sea is discoloured brown as a result of eroded clay held in suspension. On the right, taken 30th May 2015, beach level is lower by a metre.

The Three Sisters, Dimlington High Land

TA 38968 21879 (centre) on beach

also Fourth Sister at cliff top TA 38928 21863

 The Three Sisters/Fourth Sister, Dimlington (UK Grid Reference Finder)

Dimlington High Land
is a geological
Site of Special Scientific Interest.

 The Fourth Sister, Dimlington: 3 April 2013
 The Three Sisters, Dimlington: 12 May 2012
 The Three Sisters, Dimlington: 3 September 2012
 The Three Sisters, Dimlington: 31 August 2013
 The Three Sisters, Dimlington: 11 August 2014

On the beach at the northern end of Dimlington High Land zone are three specifically shaped concrete blocks, with another in situ at the top of the cliff.

The original function of the pieces, once grouped on (the highest) land, is believed to be as a mounting for detection equipment used by the military.

As elsewhere, the objects assist in observing beach changes. The pictures presented top to bottom in the right column provide an example.

12th May 2012. A very low beach exposes the blocks almost entirely. The accompanying mudballs are a sign of active cliff erosion.

3rd September 2012. The beach has a moderate-to-good cover overlain by cross-shore shingle.

31st August 2013. 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.

11th August 2014. The ord has moved on. A distinct transition from upper to lower beach is seen at lower right of picture. Propped against the middle block, a metre-long rod offers scale.

In the picture to the left, the Fourth Sister protrudes from the top of the cliff, not long to join the others [03/04/13].

The Fourth Sister has now started a descent [30/05/15].

Easington south

TA 40791 18921 on beach

Easington, south of

TA 40860 18534 on beach, inverted

 Easington, south of, pillbox (Google Earth): 1 January 2003
 Easington, south of, pillbox: 2 January 2014

The south of Easington pillbox, which at the start of 2003 was perched on the edge of the cliff, lies on the beach upside down and open to the sky. In the picture, taken 2nd January 2014, fragments of the base remain attached to the walls.

Easington dunes

TA 40979 17723 by side of dyke

TA 40986 17440 in field, close to beach

Kilnsea, north of

TA 40452 16808 by side of dyke


TA 40953 15792 on bank of estuary at bend in road

 Kilnsea pillbox: 11 August 2014

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.

Godwin Battery, Kilnsea

TA 41374 16206 west of battery, in copse

TA 41745 16080 various structures, mostly on beach

See Godwin Battery, Kilnsea page.

Spurn Nature Reserve

TA 41676 15373 estuary side of road

(Installations at the tip of Spurn not included.)

enlargements (includes additional pictures)
more on East Yorkshire coastal erosion

copy/paste coordinates to:
UK Grid Reference Finder (Google Earth map)
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