under this Creative Commons Licence.
In the early months of World War II the threat of German invasion was very real and widely feared, even in the far north of
. The wide expanses of open
beaches seemed ready-made for an amphibious landing by the Nazi hordes – hence
the proliferation of concrete pillboxes on the North-East coast. But, as you
have probably noticed on your inland travels, these gruesome structures are to
be found scattered seemingly liberally almost everywhere. England
There was nothing random about the pillbox network, though. It was remarkably well-planned, with lines of defence arranged at strategic points across the landscape. One such ‘barrier’ was the Coquet Stop Line, which ran along the course of the River Coquet from the coast at Amble to a little above Hepple in the upper reaches of the valley.
The pillbox illustrated above is that situated a little to the SW of Hepple where the B6341 runs close to the river. It is a typical ‘lozenge-shaped’ affair, and faces north, with open expanses in front and an easy escape route to the rear. The line as a whole was designed to slow any German advance from the north towards the precious strongpoints of Tyneside further south. There was another line, the Tyne Stop Line,
miles to the south, where it was hoped a large field
army could be assembled if sufficient time could be bought.
The pillboxes were, of course, never needed and are now stubbornly melting into the landscape some 70 years after their construction. Around twenty of these wartime relics have been identified as part of the Coquet Stop Line, with a handful having been lost completely to nature and modern development.
They may not be pretty to look at but the World War II pillbox is certainly a thought-provoking feature of our modern-day landscape.