Monument record MCC5130 - WWII Anti-Tank Blocks, S of Colchester Road, Chappel Viaduct, Chappel


Anti-Tank Blocks, S of Colchester Road, Chappel Viaduct.


Grid reference TL 8967 2842 (point)
Map sheet TL82NE


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

An aerial photograph taken in 1946 shows a large formation of anti-tank blocks both north (SMR 20005/MCC5132) and south of the road which passes under Chappel Viaduct. On the south side they can be seen to have stretched, in two converging rows, from the road to the pillbox (SMR 20001/MCC4799) and many of these blocks stilll survive.

The westernmost row stretched in a straight line from TL 8967 2844 to TL 8966 2842 immediately alongside the E of the viaduct. There were nine in total arranged in three groups of three blocks, each group blocking the entrance to one of the archways. Six of the blocks in this line have survived and are still in situ. If the original blocks were numbered 1 - 9 from the roadway to the pillbox then numbers 1, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 9 still survive.

The second row stretched from a position about 25 yards further E along the road. It was a straight line of 12 blocks stretching from TL 8968 2843 to TL 8966 2841. Nine of these still survive. If the original 12 were numbered 1 - 12 from the road to the pillbox then numbers 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 still remain.<1>

On the SE side of the pillbox there is a further block bridging the gap between the pillbox and the river.

All of these blocks are very large, measuring 5' square and 4/5' in height.

In addition to the two rows of square blocks there are three "cylinders" on the NE side of the pillbox in front of the southernmost blocks of the second (East) row. Each of these is a massive anti-tank obstacle made from a 6' x 6' "well cylinder" filled with concrete. They lie on their sides in an irregular line, the southernmost almost entirely blocking the view from the main firing aperture of the pillbox. These originally stood in a chevron formation with the centre block a yard or two further E than the other two, in the bed of the river directly beneath the E edge of the overhead viaduct arch. This placement would have prevented enemy tanks from using the river bed to break through the defence line.<2>

It has not been possible to determine the reason for the double row of blocks. With the addition of a road barrier, the western row would have maintained an unbroken line of defence from the river via blocks and pillboxes to the anti-tank ditch at TL 8969 2849. The eastern row of blocks end at the road. There is no indication that an anti-tank line continued on the N side of the road for a road barrier to connect to although the row of blocks do, in fact, line up with the one block known to have stood on the SE corner of Viaduct Cottages (SMR 20006/MCC5133)

Five photos of site.<3>

The quantity, diversity and survival of the WWII defences in the Chappel Viaduct area form a rare, interdependent, compound site. These include the four major types of pillbox on the Eastern Command Line (SMR 20000/MCC4798, 20001/MCC4799, 20004/MCC4800 and 20008/MCC4801), 28 concrete anti-tank cubes (SMR 20002/MCC5130 and 20005/MCC5132), three concrete anti-tank cylinders (SMR 20002/MCC5130) and two spigot mortar pedestals (SMR 10997/MCC5127 and 10998/MCC5128).

OCTOBER 2002: Site designated Scheduled Monument NHLE No. 1020687. This scheduled site is in seven parts. See also SMR's 10996 (MCC4797), 10997 (MCC5127), 10998 (MCC5128), 20000 (MCC4798), 20001 (MCC4799), 20004 (MCC4800), 20005 (MCC5132) and 20008 (MCC4801).

See also <4> & <5>.

Sources/Archives (5)

  • <1> AP: RAF. 1946. 106G-UK 1492-4140. May 1946.
  • <2> PERSONAL OBSERVATION: local resident. 1997. Local Resident.
  • <3> Photograph: Nash, Fred. 1997. Five frames by Nash, F.
  • <4> Unpublished document: Nash, Fred. 2007. SURVEY OF WORLD WAR TWO DEFENCES IN THE BOROUGH OF COLCHESTER. VOLUME 1. Volume 1.
  • <5> Photograph: Colchester Historic Buildings Forum. 2011. Digital photograph of Lexden Park House, Colchester. Digital. Volume 2.

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Record last edited

Jun 16 2020 3:53PM

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