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Friday, 29 May 2020

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Canal Bridges and Waterway Anti-Tank Defence

Rockingham Road PillboxCanal Waterway Defence

Bridges and Canal WW2 Preparations

Pillboxes | Anti-Tank | Bridges | Defence

With the outbreak of WW2 preparations were made to defend the mainland infrastructure in the event of a German invasion.

Plans included the use of the canal network for defence and there are still plenty of historic structures and pillboxes to be found across the network.

 Nateby Hall Bridge 66

Nateby Hall Canal Bridge

Nateby Hall Bridge is a minor waterway on the Lancaster Canal mainline between Rabble Link junction 16 miles to the south, and Lodge Hill junction, Glasson Dock Branch, 6 miles north.

The waterway defence plans also took into consideration the possibility Ireland could be occupied by Germany making Lancashire a possible invasion point.

As a consequence, the canal system was fortified to create a line of defence using the canals as an anti-tank barrier.

Bridge Defence Strategies

Strategic crossing points were also reinforced to bolster the defence network.

Bridges had steel cables suspended between concrete blocks to create transport barriers with remnants still visible today at bridge 76, Corless Bridge and Ratcliffe Wharf

Structural alterations were also carried out to bridges adding by metal rails supported by reinforced concrete posts.

This would minimise the enemies cover and make negotiating the tank barriers more difficult.

The Glasson Branch Canal bridge network still has a number of examples along with gun emplacements which can still be seen.

As a last line of defence bridges were rigged with demolition explosives which would allow for the possibility of a quick withdrawal

WW2 Canal gun emplacementNew Buildings and Structural Alterations

Examples of fortified modifications can be found at Crabtree Swing Bridge 35, which was previously a stable used by Slipway Public House.

Loopholes are evident on a fortified barn which provided covering fire for the Gregson Bridge number 29 with another at Smithy Farm, Downholland.

Purpose-built defences including pillboxes can be found at Moss Bridge 35, and double-storey watch towers were built at a number of locations including Heaton’s Bridge 28.

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