Then and Now – Sand Bay Bunker

This is a regular series of blogs about photographs of the same place taken years apart.

I quite like those Then and Now comparison photographs that you see in books or on the Twitter or Facebook.

I always think I should give them a go. However what I have started to notice is that I have been doing Then and Now photographs unintentionally over the years and have been taking photographs of the same thing or place from the same view or perspective years apart.  The first instance of this that came to my attention was last year in May when I went to Manchester.

It only really came to my attention that I was doing this a lot, when checking the Places function on the Apple Photos Mac App that I could see I had taken the same photograph of the same thing just years apart!

On the beach at Sand Bay is an old second world war pillbox. It looks like it has sunk into the sand, I am not sure if it has just sunk, or of it had slipped down the beach over the years.

This was the view in April 2017

Here is the (same) view in June 2020.

There appears to be an extra telegraph pole that was installed in the intervening  three years.

Even I was a little surprised to see that I had taken two photographs each time of the bunker.

This was another view in April 2017

Here is the (same) view in June 2020.

I do think it interesting that there are quite a few pillboxes and beach defences at Sand Bay. You wouldn’t have thought that this coastline was under threat of German invasion back in the 1940s. It’s quite a way from the continent and you would need to go around both Devon and Cornwall (going past Plymouth, a major Royal Navy port), as well as South Wales before hitting the beaches at Weston and Sandy Bay. However doing some research about the pillboxes, I came to realise that the British in 1940 did believe that invasion may come from the South West. The Taunton Stop Line was a defensive line in south west England. It was designed “to stop an enemy’s advance from the west and in particular a rapid advance supported by tanks which may have broken through the forward defences.

Bunker #366photos2020

Just to note that I am following government advice during this national emergency and the photograph was taken during my government sanctioned one form of exercise per day.

Bunker #366photos2020

Bunker

Just to note that I am following government advice during this national emergency and the photograph was taken during my government sanctioned one form of exercise per day.

Look what we found!

Type 22 Pillbox

Close to my house, on an old piece of land, a new petrol station, 24hour supermarket (and not quite yet) Starbucks has been built. No I am not blogging that there’s going to be a new coffee shop…

During clearance work, two Type 22 Pillbox bunkers were uncovered.

I know the area quite well, and have seen a few pillboxes in the area, but having passed this way many times I wasn’t aware that they were even there.

Looking at this old Google Street View image you can see why, this is how it looked before the construction started.

Google Street View of Type 22 Pillbox

Here is how it looks now. Part of the planning permission was that these should be retained and protected.

Type 22 Pillbox

So what we have is a World War Two pillbox defending a Shell petrol station!

The pillboxes were constructed to protect the airfield, RAF Weston-super-Mare, which was a Royal Air Force station on a civilian airfield in Weston-super-Mare. The civilian airfield was taken over by the RAF on the 1st May 1940 and would remain there until 1993.