Lancashire At War.co.uk

Exploring the hidden history of War sites in Lancashire

Barrow WW2 Defences - Barrow Island

This page features some of the WW2 defences around Barrow Island that still remain in place today. During the Second World War the industrial sites of Barrow were important for the war effort. Plus it was a ship building port. So the Luftwaffe were keen to bomb it. There was also the threat of invasion.

 

More than half of the pillboxes built to withstand an invasion have been lost - demolished to allow for progress. Fortunately several survive despite the Island being under renewed regeneration.

 

These are mainly on the West  and East side of the Island and most are accessible today with a bit of care. Some are quite "rare" or should we say "uncommon" structures.

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ABOVE RIGHT, LEFT & RIGHT: Three images of the same structure.

 

Underneath we have a Type 24 pillbox with extended walls by entrance - this is often seen in Lancashire - wonder if it was because of the wind? It has a brick observation post built on top. The Defence of Britain database states that it may be a Royal Navy Minewatchers Post.

The internal photo (RIGHT) shows some metal work still in place though what it was for we do not know.

 

There are a further four Type 24 pillboxes still standing in close proximity to this one. Three are on the coast, one is more in land. Three can clearly be seen to have the extended entrances also. They are in the vicinity of Harding Rise and Ramsden Dock Road

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ABOVE LEFT: The entrance is hidden by the huts behind. ABOVE RIGHT: This pillbox is accessible as the entrance is not blocked. BELOW LEFT: This pillbox has every entrance blocked by railings. BELOW RIGHT: Recently uncovered, this pillbox was half buried under earth and used as a ramp for motorbikes (the scratches show where it was mechanically excavated). Before that we believe it bordered a (now buried) railway and was obviously part of its defence.

On the Eastern side of Barrow Island are further extant defensive structures from WW2. Following the former railway line from the West of the Island  we have a groupng of structures. Here the railway cutting is still evident.

 

RIGHT & BELOW: Overlooking the railway is a rare pillbox type with open bay for an anti-aircraft position set on top. The open bay has a concrete pillar for attaching an Anti Aircraft weapon. There is a blocked up  entrance to the pillbox from the bay above. Three embrasures are present on the main pillbox covering the railway line fully.

 

There are some interesting features still evident behind the pillbox. Were these part of the original anti-invasion defences for Barrow or later additions to defend the area from attack?

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These structures are all adjacent to Barrow Island Community & Sports Hub and are easily acessible. Directly behind this pillbox (ABOVE) is an unknown concrete base or structure (RIGHT). It was not easy to photograph as it was overgrown.

 

Behind that is another concrete base - this one much easier to identify and photograph. BELOW LEFT & BELOW RIGHT is a thick concrete base with a steel holdfast. Most likely this held a searchlight associated with the Anti Aircraft gun on top of the adjacent pillbox.

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On the other side of the railway cutting just slightly south east of the above sites is a further pillbox. Type unkown due to the amount of vegetation covering it. Our friend Dave Coward kindly managed to photograph this pillboxx for us finding both the entrance and an embrasure (BELOW RIGHT).

Our great thanks to Dave Coward for showing us around Barrow Island.

For kindly giving us his time and his knowledge.