Posted: 10 June 2006 21:06

I spent the morning in London, inspecting some defence works, including the site of the Rotundras.

Armed with the knowledge that there would be no surviving evidence of the Rotundas to see (see this fantastic write-up and photographs from Subterranean Britannica), I still took some time out to view the neighbourhood anyway, as the street plan is still pretty much as it was.

Horseferry Road

Equipped with a copy of a plan in WO 199/80, I was able to determine the sites of various emplacements manned by the local Home Guard in the event of a German attack.

The photograph shows a very ordinary view of Horseferry Road, but sixty-odd years ago, there would have been a sandbagged defensive position somewhere near the taxi (possibly in the building behind), able to shoot down Monck Street.

I love being able to visit sites like this and imagine what it was like at that time; thousands of people walk along this road every day and have no idea of the potential importance of this spot in recent history.

An opposing position situated in Great Peter Street and facing down Monck Street from the other direction was to be constructed only in the event of a Stand-to order being given. The fact that the post had not been built was possibly due to it being beside a church entrance; some months ago I came across a memo from 1940 (sorry - can't locate the document reference at this time) stating that defence works were not to be built on consecrated ground unless absolutely necessary.

Putney Bridge pillbox

I also came across this pillbox precariously perched on one corner of Putney Bridge over the Thames. Its embrasures command the railway line and footpath across the bridge, the Putney Bridge tube station and the approaches to the bridge from road level.

Does this look safe?? Seemingly so; on the station side of the bridge wall, the pillbox appears to have a lower storey (without embrasures) in order to provide a wider base for the concrete slab that the pillbox proper is built upon.

I'd have still been a bit nervous about manning the east end of it though...

- Pete



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A loophole or slit that permits observation and/or weapons to be fired through a wall or similar solid construction.


Generic term for a hardened field defensive structure usually constructed from concrete and/or masonry. Pillboxes were built in numerous types and variants depending on location and role.

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