Converted Drainage MillBack Ludham Bridge, Ludham, Norfolk
Former drainage mill, fortified in 1940.
- Year of construction
- Protected status
Ludham Bridge, close to the village of Ludham is a good example of the kind of anti-invasion defences put in place to defend a bridge crossing. The bridges lies in the middle of the ‘Broadland’ region of Norfolk, and the landscape is one of flat fields, drainage channels and rivers.
Ludham bridge was part of a Stop Line and was therefore designated to be blown up in the event of German invasion. Ludham village was a Category ‘B’ Defended Place and was also the site of an army camp and RAF airfield.
The bridge itself has been replaced after 1945, but originally it was mined and also blocked by bent rails and also horizontal steel rails, which could be slotted into concrete blocks situated on either side of the road. A pillbox was located on the north side of the bridge along with an Allan Williams Turret. A flame fougasses was concealed in the adjacent hedgerows, which would have covered the bridge in flame. In 1941 a number of spigot mortar emplacements were added to the defences.
The most interesting aspect of the defences was the conversion of a drainage windmill into a fortified strongpoint. These mills were built in the 1800s in order to help drainage of the surrounding marshland and in this case, the location of one near the bridge was a ready-made defensive structure. A total of eight embrasures were placed in its brick walls on two levels and a brick blast wall was built in order to protect the entrance.
Taken together, Ludham and Ludham bridge are a good example of defence in depth along a Stop Line. They offer a reminder of the importance of bridges in the anti-invasion landscape and how existing landscape features were put to military use during the invasion crisis of 1940. The presence of the Spigot Mortars shows how such sites developed over the course of the war.