Evidence of Canvey's Sea Wall Pillboxes

Lost WW2 remnants

As a child I remember where Canvey’s Seawall turns north toward the Lobster Smack Inn there used to be a strange round metal structure that looked like a Parisian Street Toilet. Long gone, probably after the new Sea Wall was built in the early 1980’s, apparently this structure may have been a WW2 Machine Gun Postiion. I have never seen a photograph of it, only the nearby brick Post Box that is now in the Dutch Cottage Museum. Can anyone help?

If you walk east from the Lobster Smack Inn along the Sea Wall a keen eye will spot a number of mysterious recesses in the sea wall as seen in these photos. Aerial photos taken in 1946 appear to show through the sea wall hexagonal Pillboxes, probably of the same type that can still be found on the Dengie peninsular sea wall.

When the new Sea Wall was constructed they pile drove large steel gurders into the ground and the Pillboxes were probably left in the old sea wall and worked round, leaving the shapes you see today.

Canvey had many other Pillboxes of which I only know of one remaining (See HERE). Besides the many featured here along the Methane area of the Sea Wall, there were three just inland from Thorney Bay, one on the S.E. of Thorney bay itself and one east of Seaview Road where the old dutch sea wall meets the new.

There was another one on the S.E. Point of Canvey which I remember. My younger brother told me it was a through the sea wall type as he remembers crawling through it. There was another with a light anti aircraft site near the (now) Island Yacht Club and another on the north Sea Wall where the old Sea Wall meets the new, next to Newlands. If you have any memories, information or photographs of these Pillboxes please leave a comment below or email us.

Comments about this page

  • Great article! I played as a child on the pillboxes at Thorney Bay and in the old battery emplacements there during the late 60s.

    My father, Gordon Wilkinson, recalls demolishing a small 4 man pillbox in 1960-61, approximately where the current roundabout is situated at Northwick Road, near the Garden Centre. It took a week to demolish and proved stubborn even to the best efforts of man and the latest compressor and drill of the day.

    It was constructed of concrete with standard slits and was slightly raised to command the approach by road from Benfleet Station and from Canvey Village.

    The land on which it stood belonged to Farmer Cass who sold the plot to Charles Hollingbury for development. A house was built on the site and of course this also has been demolished long since being replaced by the garden centre and road layout.

    By Paul Wilkinson (25/09/2008)
  • HI Paul, Interesting read and on seeing your Dads name it brought back so many memories for me about my childhood on Canvey and I’d like to ask if your Dad could possibly be THE ‘Gordon Wilkinson’ that I remember from Long Road Infant/Junior school in late 1949-1952?

    Two lads I particularly liked in my class were Gordon Wilkinson who went around in the playground with Ray Howard (later years to become a Councillor?) Both great lads to ‘knock around the playground’ with and they would alway share their sweets with me whenever they saw me. I was a tomboy and loved kicking a ball around with any of the boys at playtime whenever they let me join in. On one occasion in amongst a tackle with a crowd of lads I tripped as I went to kick and ended up falling down in front of a lad also attempting to kick the ball at the same time the result being he accidently kicked me in the mouth and caused my two front teeth to come out whereby I promptly swallowed them both! Not only was the teacher horrified when I went back into class, but my Mother almost fainted when I arrived home! ..After this incident I was ‘accepted’ by the boys because I didn’t shed a tear after the incident, cos being a tomboy I would have considered that a Very cissy’ thing to do!!

    Long road infant/jnr school was wonderful and I attended from 1947-1953. Happy memories of a time when Canvey Island was ‘Freedom for us kids to roam safely acres upon acres of open fields to explore, the never ending pleasure of good neighbours and friends, who hadn’t much in the way of material wealths, being so soon after the end of the war, but nonetheless were Rich with the wealth of living amongst our beautiful simple surroundings and our idyllic lifestyle’.

    We lived in Church Parade Winter Gardens which then consisted of mostly simple styled wooden bungalows which stood for the most parts dotted on large plots of land and Church Parade way back then was a simple ‘Grass track road’…… ah those were the days?

    By Anita Juler (30/07/2011)
  • There used to be one of those pill boxes in a field alongside Haven road, where there’s now a football pitch. We were jumping off it one day, and i fell off backwards, landing on my back. I thought i had broken my back, couldn’t move or breathe, but thankfully i was only winded. Us kids would have loved a football pitch there, back then. We used to play football among the cow pats on a field at the bottom of our garden. (Cass’s farm, now that industrial estate) The cows often used to chase us.

    By George Smith (31/07/2011)
  • Hi George – Pretty sure it is still there unless they have built the new by pass through it! Have a look in the other pages of Wartime Canvey section.

    By David Bullock (01/08/2011)
  • Yes David, that’s the one. It was never surrounded by any trees or bushes when i lived there though. Just an open field.

    By George Smith (01/08/2011)
  • Anita, re: your comment above regarding Gordon Wilkinson – sorry to disappoint you, but my father would have been doing his National Service in Egypt and Malayia during 1948-52! My apology for delay in replying.

    By Paul Wilkinson (09/04/2015)
  • When we were kids there was a through the wall pill box at the end of Southfalls Rd and another at the end of Beveland Rd. The landside entrances had been blocked up and buried, the river side had the gun slits bricked up, i lived in Southfalls Rd so played around that pill box most days as that was our kids play area at the end of the rd. one day we noticed that the bricks had been busted out of one of the slits and we crawled in, i remember some steps at the back that lead down but for only a few steps then you hit back fill so could not get down to the door. i think you can stll see the foundation of the box under the 1980’s wall walk way.

    By Rob Page (16/09/2020)

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