The Taunton Stop Line

25 May 2020


IN TAUNTON SOMERSET, AFTER THE OUTBREAK OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR A NUMBER OF DEFENSIVE LINES WERE HASTILY CONSTRUCTED to try to stop a German advance should there be an invasion of England. One of these was the Taunton Stop Line, which stretched 50 miles from Pawlett in the north of Somerset to Seaton in Devon. Construction of the stop line commenced after a meeting in Taunton in June 1940 and consisted of over 300 pillboxes as well as machine-gun emplacements, anti- tank emplacements and ditches and infantry trenches. Local geography was used to help
_IB77047-(2).jpgmake the defence continuous and the rivers Axe and Parrett, various canals and sections of the Great Western Railway Line were all utilised. Thankfully, the line was never used and after the cessation of hostilities farmers were offered £5 for each structure they demolished. This was no easy task, given the amount of concrete and brick that filled these very solid defences, so they were left to the elements to decay. Today a number still sit silently in the landscape, sentinels of a time past.

Situated on the Levels, the landscape around the small settlements of Upper and Lower Godney has changed very little over the last 75 years. Here the defences at Godney formed part of GHQ Line Green. The River Brue formed the principal anti-tank obstacle from the west as far as Meare, where the defensive line left the river to take a course more directly to the east, eventually passing to the south and east of Wells.

From Meare it followed a series of waterways, including at Godney the Division Rhyne and a short length of the River Sheppey. Within Upper Godney, however, it was considered necessary to strengthen the anti-tank capability of the water obstacle with rows of concrete cubes and an artificial anti-tank ditch. Some of these are still visible and are accessible from the public footpaths that cross the area.
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The Line was further fortified with pillboxes and roadblocks. Bridges were also prepared for demolition.

These defences were designed to hold up an attack from the south or the east. GHQ Line Green entered the defence area from the west, following the course of the Division Rhyne.

It turned north towards Upper Godney along the line of another drain, and was fortified here by a line of anti-tank cubes standing four feet high. From Higher Bridge Farm a machine-dug anti- tank ditch running parallel with the River Sheppey continued across a meadow at the centre of Upper Godney. The Line was then taken to the north by a further line of anti-tank cubes, until it left the defence area following the course of the Frogmore Rhyne.

For more on Somerset's incredible history and heritage go to our interactive E Book.

This information taken from http:// archaeologydataservice.ac.uk.

The Taunton Stop Line
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