Wartime defence turret, Builth Wells

Wartime defence turret, Builth Wells

The steel hemisphere near Builth Wells war memorial is an Allan-Williams turret, installed nearby in the Second World War to help defend against a possible Nazi invasion. It was discovered in 1995 in a garden, where it formed a flowerbed!

After Germany invaded France in 1940, preparations were stepped up against an attempted invasion of Great Britain. The Allan-Williams turret was designed for mass production and easy installation. The round cap sat on top of a circular steel box sunk into the ground. The structure was manned by two soldiers, who would enter through an opening below ground level.

As you can see when you inspect the turret, two sliding shutters cover a hole in the side and a lid covers a second hole near the top. Any type of machine gun could be positioned inside, to point through either of the holes. The turret could rotate full circle, enabling the gunner to face and track the enemy.

This turret was positioned by the river at Builth Wells to defend the Wye Bridge, a strategic asset for an invading army to capture. It was put on public display by the Mid Wales Military Society and the local Royal British Legion branch, after it was spotted in the garden of a Mr and Mrs Bye. The couple donated it.

It’s believed that only 199 of these turrets were built. Steel was needed for many other things during the war, and concrete defence posts (known as “pillboxes”) were more common. Many Allan-Williams turrets were recycled. Relatively few now exist, and even fewer have the complete set of shutters and lid.

Postcode: LD2 3BH    View Location Map

With thanks to Tony Prynne