Forgotten Wartime Tank Traps in Embleton Bay, Northumberland

These abandoned WW2 tank traps and ruined beehive pillbox can still be seen in Embleton Bay, Northumberland. (Images: Urban Ghosts. Abandoned WW2 tank traps in Embleton Bay)

There are few stretches of English coast more tranquil than the one that extends south from the isolated fishing village of Low Newton by the Sea. But during the Second World War this stretch of the Northumberland coast was a world away from the pristine calm of today. The sand of St Mary’s Bay (also known as Newton Haven) and Embleton Bay was – quite literally – a minefield, and the dunes were punctuated by machine gun posts and rows of hastily constructed barbed wire fencing.

The anti tank blocks in Embleton Bay echo the expansive wartime defences built along the coast of Britain during the Second World War.

A number of pillboxes survive today, include several rare “beehive pillboxes” at nearby Dunstan Steads. Alongside one ruined beehive pillbox that recently reemerged in Embleton Bay (above), a number of heavy concrete blocks echo the terrifying reality of an impending German invasion of Britain during those dark years. The blocks are just a handful of the thousands of tank traps placed around the UK coast, blocking access through the sand dunes and across tidal estuaries.

This fascinating account on the BBC’s WW2 People’s War website tells of the intense activity in and around Low Newton by the Sea during the late summer of 1940, as troops scrambled to shore up the beautiful Northumberland coastline as part of the overall defence of Britain.

According to the account: “Barbed wire was put up, one row with iron stakes and three rolls of round barbed wire, two on the bottom and one on the top. Tank traps made of concrete went to every opening on the beach and pill-boxes went up on the links and some in the fields. Some are still preserved to this day. Also long poles were pile driven into the beach to stop enemy aircraft from landing… Miles of barbed wire were taken down and dumped over the rocks. It took years for it all to rot away.”

Read Next: 10 Historic Border Fortifications & Military Defences of Wartime Europe


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