At Greenbelt, we’re crazy about conservation, maintaining hundreds of woodlands, wildlife corridors and biodiversity-promoting wildflower meadows… but did you know that we also look after more than 100 designated listed buildings, historic locations and certified Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)?
One such fascinating slice of history is this authentic ‘Type 24’ second world war pillbox, one of three incredible defensive wartime structures found on our Manor Fields estate in Steeton, West Yorkshire:
This imposing double-decker structure was active from 1941-1945, and is one of only 25 known surviving ‘Type 24’ pillboxes in the world – or one of only four multi-storey pillboxes of its type still remaining.
Along with two smaller supporting “fire posts” shortly nearby, the pillbox formed a tight defensive grouping intended to protect Steeton’s Royal Ordnance Factory, a key producer of 20mm cannon shells for the war effort, from the threat of German invasion.
While the munitions factory which once sat to the north of the estate was ultimately replaced with a Heavy Goods Vehicle testing facility in the early 70s, the pillbox and both fire posts remain present and in excellent condition to date, achieving Grade-II listed status with Historic England in 2010:
“The pillbox is an extremely rare example of a two-storey ‘Type 24’ pillbox from the Second World War, one of only four known surviving examples,” reads their heritage listing with Historic England.
“The pillbox and two fire posts are unaltered and complete. They form a group of defensive structures guarding a Royal Ordnance Factory, identified in the national selection criteria as a valid claim to special interest.”
|'Type 24' multi-storey WW2-era pillbox|
|Walls:||23-inch thick, quadruple-pressed 'Phorpres' brick|
|Roof:||9-inch thick, reinforced concrete|
|Interior:||Y-shaped internal anti-ricochet wall (top and bottom)|
|Capacity:||8 soldiers and 2 mounted gun positions, plus ammo & supplies|
|Gun Slits:||5 standard and 2 extra-wide, pre-cast splayed concrete embrasures|
|2 auxiliary fire post structures; 2 anti-blast walls; telephone post.|
|Active:||1941 to 1945|
|Status:||Grade-II listed, Historic England (list no. 1393602)|
With its unusual two-tiered construction and a distinctive uneven footprint, this particular pillbox is actually a unique variation on the standard ‘Type 24’ blueprint, specifically adapted to protect the nearby factory.
The irregular hexagonal shape means the front walls are shorter, creating a ‘bay window’ effect with a greater angle of visibility, while the back wall has been extended to accommodate an additional rifle loop.
Other than a small hatch to the upper floor and an exterior access door, the ground floor has no openings at all – suggesting this heavily fortified space may have been used for ammo storage or improvised personal quarters.
If you'd like to find more about Greenbelt's commitment to historic locations and wartime heritage, why not read more about the First World War centenary commemorative statue at Harlestone Manor, or the site of another former Royal Ordnance Factory, The Limes estate at Vickers Factory.