View Full Version : Taunton Stop line – Peasmarsh to Donyatt Halt - May 2011

22-05-2011, 02:48 PM
Those of you familiar with this stop line can skip the info bit, for anyone new to it, read on.

This Stop Line ran from the north coast of Somerset down to Seaton, Devon. The installations were built by private contractors and Army personnel in the weeks following the Dunkirk evacuations.

"The Line, of over 300 pillboxes plus machine gun emplacements, anti-tank gun emplacements, anti-tank ditches, infantry trenches and many other defences, ran down from the Pawlett Hams in the north of Somerset, along the River Parrett and then, following the east bank of the Bridgwater and Taunton canal southward, to Creech St. Michael where it joined and followed the dried-up bed of the old Taunton & Chard Canal. South-west of Ilton the Line traced the route of the Great Western Railway southward. North of Chard Junction the Line left the G.W.R. and followed the route shared by the Southern Railway and the River Axe, briefly crossing over into Dorset in a couple of places, finally following the Axe into the seaside town of Seaton, Devon, where the Stop Line ended."

Continuing with my exploration of the TSL, I made my way north from Peasmarsh to Donyatt Halt. Previous section report here http://www.urbexforums.co.uk/showthread.php/9890-Taunton-Stopline-%E2%80%93-Chard-Joint-to-Peasmarsh-%E2%80%93-September-2010

I’ve added indications of AT ditches, barbed wire etc as well as the usual PB placemarks to my GE map shots to try to give a more comprehensive view of how the stop line was ‘joined up’ so to speak. In this instance barbed wire is the thin blue line and AT ditches a thicker orange line. The thick yellow line shows AT cubes.

These indications and placemarks are based on the original schedule of completed works and engineers plans from Nov 1940. Many defences were added after this date and the field work often throws up previously unknown or unlisted installations.

Original stop line designations, DOB numbers and now grid references are given for each artefact.


This whole stretch has been cleared and a cycle track established so it’s easy to explore. A very different place from the late ‘70’s when I first discovered the line as a boy but a good re-use of a disused railway line I guess.

Proceeding north from Peasmarsh;

Pillbox M 17 – S0002974, shell proof type 24, 50°54'48.93"N, 2°56'11.57"W

PB is in fine condition and accessible.




Next there was a road block M RD 36 indicated at 50°54'51.53"N, 2°56'17.50"W on the engineers plans although nothing remains that I could see. The construction of the A 358 is probably the culprit.

AT tetrahedron are shown on the DOB overlay at 50°54'57.40"N, 2°56'16.38"W. I didn’t see them but, as they were reported by Chris Perry with whom I am aquainted, I do not doubt their existence. Also, Chris is the person who discovered the steel hairpin (a rare find indeed) at the location of a removed rail block T RL B 20 at 50°52'48.69"N, 2°57'8.94"W. This remarkable find is now resident at the Chard Museum.

Next up, something rather unusual. A rail block on the river bridge and a road block below the bridge in the bed of the river. It’s easy to see why as the river is very shallow and would have presented no significant obstacle to a tank crossing under the line. A single concrete block probably for a horizontal RSJ is present on the south bank. It’s given as M RD 35 on the DOB overlay but closer inspection of the engineers plans states it’s M RD 33, to my eye at least.


Road block - M RD 33 - 50°55'3.54"N, 2°56'16.58"W



Rail block – M RL 14 - 50°55'3.32"N, 2°56'16.10"W




Note the small hole for the insertion of a pin which would be driven in to complete the block once the RSJ’s were in place.



Rail block at Donyatt Halt – M RL 38 – S0000294 - 50°55'17.38"N, 2°56'16.13"W

Mis-located by the DOB database but very much extant. The wonderful condition of all the defences here is thanks to the work of the volunteers who created the cycle track allowing Donyatt Halt to re-emerge from the undergrowth.



AT cubes – S0002957

A duplicate entry on the DOB and actually running from M RL 38 to the bridge at 50°55'18.98"N, 2°56'14.92"W as shown by the yellow line.




Unlisted Road block - 50°55'19.18"N, 2°56'14.85"W

Only the one half remains and this block is not shown on the 1940 plans. I couldn’t see the mine socket reported by Chris Perry. This block was clearly constructed after Nov 1940.



M RD 34 was located to the west at 50°55'19.14"N, 2°56'26.22"W and is on the 1940 plans where interestingly an AT wall is noted on the DOB database.

Continued in next post.

22-05-2011, 02:52 PM
To deal with the defences overlooking Donyatt Halt from the west it was necessary to obtain permission from the landowner at Downs Farm and I suggest that if you visit you do the same. A very affable lady graciously afforded me the run of the field. She did however warn me that the electric fence was on, the PB’s were very overgrown and the young cows in the field were very curious and would probably follow me around.

I inadvertently leaned on the fence at one point (a cow nudged me, honest) and spent the rest of the day getting re-shocks every time I touched anything metal. The boxes were indeed heavily overgrown and the cows followed me around like the paparazzi after a celebrity, chewing on my jeans and T shirt and licking me whenever I stopped. Not that it bothered me to be honest. I think they were sorry to see me go, must have been the highlight of their day lol.

Vickers MMG – MV 7a – S0002952 - 50°55'14.22"N, 2°56'9.85"W

The gun table was missing in both the Vickers PB’s. I didn’t clamber in the embrasure on this occasion although I probably could have.



Vickers MMG – MV 7 – S0002953 - 50°55'15.73"N, 2°56'12.11"W



M AT 607 - 6 pounder gun emplacement – S0000290 - 50°55'16.53"N, 2°56'13.52"W

Jury’s out on the exact gun intended to be used here. Nevertheless, 6 pounder is what the engineers plans say it would have been. I think this is referred to as a TL 55. Would be nice to know for sure.


Looked like two main embrasures one of which appeared to be blocked up.


That bloody electric fence


Gloriously decorated by nature


Pillbox M 16, shell proof type 24 – S0000292 - 50°55'17.65"N, 2°56'11.09"W

Mis-labelled as a type 28 on the DOB database and inaccessible.





The Paparazzi – CITF 37 – S0005Mooooo – Bloody everywhere (sorry couldn’t resist)

Attacking the gun emplacement


The pied piper effect


That’s it for this trip, hope you enjoyed it.

22-05-2011, 05:12 PM
Yet again another superb report on this Stop line:thumb Very well researched and excellent photos, many thanks for sharing this with us:thumb

22-05-2011, 06:19 PM
Yet again another superb report on this Stop line:thumb Very well researched and excellent photos, many thanks for sharing this with us:thumb

Thanks Tankman, it's nice to be appreciated. This one was easier than most as it's not quite so out in the back of beyond as some I've been to. I almost feel like a bit of a fraud sometimes with the cycle track ones but there's still a lot of work to be done to get a proper report up.

23-05-2011, 06:00 PM
Great bit of research Munchh, so often people only look at a pillbox in isolation and may fail to see the larger plan.

The angled indentations in the concrete of the mis-labelled Type 24.. deliberate or an accident in the shuttering?

23-05-2011, 06:40 PM
wow this is great, so much to see there, fantastic!

Thanks carlin. This whole line is quite superb and there are some rare items in amongst it. The sheer amount of concrete left is enough to keep me busy for many years.

Great bit of research Munchh, so often people only look at a pillbox in isolation and may fail to see the larger plan.

The angled indentations in the concrete of the mis-labelled Type 24.. deliberate or an accident in the shuttering?

Thanks SG. I think eventually, if you look at these defences for long enough, you're gonna want to know why, how etc. People can sometimes find a single PB a bit boring in exploration terms, I'm trying to show that these defences are far more than they at first appear and are an often overlooked but very important part of our military history.

The angled indentations are quite deliberate and all about attaching camouflage. You will often find the original wood battens (for nails etc) still in them. The PB at the very start of this report (M17) was actually disguised as a gypsy caravan. A photograph of it taken during the war (illegally of course) can be found on the info board at Donyatt Halt. :smile

23-05-2011, 08:55 PM
I wondered if the slots were for some piece of stagecraft, it seems odd to have that directly above an embrasure as it would appear to support a substantial beam.

Did the ledges under the embrasures have a notch for a Bren tripod?

23-05-2011, 11:14 PM
I wondered if the slots were for some piece of stagecraft, it seems odd to have that directly above an embrasure as it would appear to support a substantial beam.

Did the ledges under the embrasures have a notch for a Bren tripod?

The slots can be anywhere on the PB depending on the type of camouflage it seems. Also different shapes. The slot in the first shot still has the wood in it. The second is on a different part of the same PB;



Regarding the 'notch' you mention,

If you mean this;


M 17 does have it, M 16 does not.

Combined with this shelf from a PB in Park Wood, Wells;


It does this.


I found this picture a while back, courtesy of the Defence of East Sussex Project. The PB and tripod are real, the Bren is superimposed. Demonstrates nicely the way a Bren was set up in some PB's and the purpose of the hole;

or you may mean this? also from Park Wood, Wells and we think may be to rest the Bren bipod in when folded;


I've also seen this on the TSL;


and this. You may be able to make out the 3 circular indentations on the shelf;