Putney Bridge WWII Pillbox | Look Up London

A WWII Relic at Putney Bridge Station

If you look up along Ranelagh Gardens, atop the railway viaduct for Putney Bridge Tube Station, you can spy a curious WWII Relic; a Pillbox.

Putney Bridge WWII Pillbox | Look Up London
The view from Ranelagh Gardens, looking up

This concrete pillbox was erected in 1940 across Britain, a final line of defence should Germany invade during WWII. They were designed as fortified look-out posts with narrow loopholes (rather like a castle) to protect the inhabitant while allowing them to shoot at intruders.

Putney Bridge WWII Pillbox | Look Up London
Viewed from the Eastbound platform

There were around 28,000 constructed across Britain, of which around 6,500 survive (including some along the Thames Path in Woolwich).

The plan for London’s last line of defence was made up of concentric circles – the Outer London Ring, Central London Ring and Inner London Ring – masterminded by General Edmund Ironside (an apt name) who was later replaced by Alan Brooke as the head of the British Army. Brooke wasn’t as keen on these static defensive structures and – thankfully – they were never needed.

For the best view of the WWII Pillbox, walk to the front end of the Westbound platform (towards the Putney Rail Bridge).

Putney Bridge WWII Pillbox | Look Up London

View from the front end of the Westbound platform

For a larger military bunker that’s rather easier to spot, you might be familiar with the Admiralty Citadel on the corner of Horse Guards Parade.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

It was constructed around the same time as the Putney Bridge Pillbox, 1940-41 with 9m deep foundations and a 6m thick roof.

A bomb and invasion-proof bunker, during WWII it was full of workers conveying intelligence reports. It was described by Rear Admiral Dickson, Chief of Naval information, as “a maze of machinery and conveyor belts. One week last year in secret messages alone, the Admiralty handles over 1.3 million groups of naval cipher.”

Winston Churchill describes it as a “vast monstrosity which weighs upon the Horse Guards Parade”. However the brutalist-style appearance has been since softened with a covering of Boston Ivy and in the Autumn months it provides a rather lovely counterpart to Horseguards.


More London Inspiration

Get the latest London secrets to your email
See the city from a new angle, discovering little things you miss everyday and get the latest news about upcoming tours.
Once a week. No spam, just inspiration.
Your details will never be shared with any 3rd parties

Latest Blog Posts

  • Mark Lane Ghost Station | Look Up London

    Mark Lane | The Tower Hill Ghost Station

    As you walk along the traffic-packed Byward Street, with All Hallows Barking, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge in the distance, it’s thoroughly understandable that you’d miss a ghost station hiding in plain sight. Abandoned or ‘Ghost’ stations can be seen all over London......

  • M&S Oxford Street | Pantheon History Look Up London

    M&S Oxford Street | The Former Pantheon

    Oxford Street has a bad rep from Londoners, but there’s a surprising among of fabulous history if you know where to look. From a hidden little oasis to the more gruesome reminders at Tottenham Court Road and Marble Arch, often you have to look up......

  • bull and mouth coaching inn

    The Bull and Mouth: A Lost London Coaching Inn

    By the Museum of London you can see an amazing little clue to uncover the history of the Bull and Mouth Coaching Inn...

  • Inside Crosby Moran Hall | Look Up London

    Inside Crosby Moran Hall

    I’m constantly surprised by the wonderful doors that have opened since starting this blog back in 2015. A case in point was that a few weeks ago I wrote about the extraordinary history of Crosby Hall; the Medieval Mansion that was moved 5 miles across......

  • Putney Bridge WWII Pillbox | Look Up London

    A WWII Relic at Putney Bridge Station

    If you look up along Ranelagh Gardens, atop the railway viaduct for Putney Bridge Tube Station, you can spy a curious WWII Relic; a Pillbox. This concrete pillbox was erected in 1940 across Britain, a final line of defence should Germany invade during WWII. They......

  • Lavers and Barraud Stained Glass Works | Look Up London

    Lavers and Barraud Stained Glass Works

    Look up at 22 Endell Street in Covent Garden, and you’ll see the striking facade of a former stained glass studio. Built in 1859 and designed by Robert Jewell Withers, between the multi-coloured decorative brickwork you can make out the proclamation in stone; Lavers and......

2 Comments

  • Terry Moriarty

    Reply

    The pillbox on the bridge wouldn’t have lasted 2 minutes artillery would have smashed it as its made of bricks.

    April 20, 2022 at 8:49 am

Post a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.