Moorland Second World War defences given Heritage status

THEY have stood empty and little known for nearly 80 years but now relics from World War Two, hidden on Saddleworth hillsides, have been added to England’s National Heritage List.

The Grade II listed pillboxes at Bleak Hey Nook above Delph and off the A635 Holmfirth Road, Greenfield were built by military planners when the threat of an imminent German invasion was a major concern.

The Pillbox at Bleak Hey Nook

Their purpose was to help guard key road routes into Manchester, over the moors, from Huddersfield and Barnsley in Yorkshire.

Both locations made good use of natural camouflage and provided openings for rifles or light machine guns.

Unlike the majority of pillboxes built at the time (around 1940/1941) which were standard models of reinforced concrete, these defences were individually designed with brick and stone incorporated into the construction. 

These small fortified structures were popularly known as pillboxes, a reference to their shape.

The two Saddleworth sites are part of 58 historic places in the North West that have been added to the National Heritage List for England during 2020. 

The pillbox off Holmfirth Road

Heritage Minister, Nigel Huddleston, said: “These significant additions to the list span the whole country and include something for everyone to enjoy. 

“I am grateful that, thanks to these listings, these heritage sites will continue to enrich our communities for generations to come.” 

Catherine Dewar, North West Regional Director, said: “Every year, we work with painstaking care to identify and protect the most significant historic sites up and down the great counties, towns and cities of the North West. 

“Despite the challenges that everyone has faced this year, 2020 has seen some wonderful additions to the List. 

“We have taken action to protect the cultural heritage cherished by communities across the region.” 

Other additions to the list include:

The Gardens at Graythwaite Hall, Cumbria, Grade II* Listed

Gardens designed by Thomas Mawson, widely considered to be the founder of modern landscaping. 

Plau, the former Plough Inn 115 and 115a Friargate, Preston has been listed at Grade II 

A newly renovated and award-winning bar, the former Plough Inn has been a public house since the 18th century. 

It was originally associated with the notorious gin craze and later linked to the beginning of the temperance movement. 

Ollerton School House, Knutsford, Grade II listed 

The School House was built in 1692 as a result of a bequest in the will of Samuel Leigh to provide a teacher’s house in the village of Ollerton. A new school was built opposite in 1876 following the passing of the Education Act of 1870, and School House became the headmaster’s house for the new school. 

The building of the school commenced a period of some 300 years of continuous education in a very small rural village, until the new school closed in 1994. 

Barton Lane Aqueduct Portal, Salford, Grade II listed 

A marvel of engineering in 1761, the Barton aqueduct carried the Bridgewater Canal over the River Irwell. At the time, the idea of sailing a barge over another navigable waterway was extraordinary. 

The Duke of Bridgewater, who commissioned the canal, initially compared engineer James Brindley’s concept to building “castles in the air”. 

Bainbrigg Stones, Appleby-in-Westmorland, Grade II Listed 

Part of Appleby’s unique 16th century collection of original and copied Roman stones, once owned by celebrated antiquarian and local headmaster Reginald Bainbrigg, are now on display within a wall between Chapel Street and King George’s Field. 

The National Heritage List for England has over 400,000 entries and people are invited to share knowledge and images of listed places so important facts can be recorded. Find out how to enrich the list here:

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