Concrete Castles: Britain’s War Defences of 1940

Concrete Castles

Start date: July 27, 2021

End date: December 4, 2021

Time: 10.00 - 17.00

Location: Bodmin Keep

Art Exhibition | Artist talk | Curator talk | Family Friendly | WW2

As part of a year-long programme of events telling the stories of Cornwall and the Second World War, we have an exciting new art exhibition entitled Concrete Castles: Britain’s War Defences of 1940, coming to Bodmin Keep!   

The exhibition, which runs from 27 July to 4 December, explores Britain’s Second World War defence structures, especially pillboxes, that are found on the coast and in the landscape. Works by 30 artists will be on display, including sculpture, paintings and photography, celebrating these unsung structures that we so often ignore.

In reaction to the threat of invasion by Nazi Germany in the summer of 1940, Britain hastily constructed 89,000 pillboxes around the coast and across the countryside and these have since been described as 20th century castles. While a few of the more impressive ones have been restored and are even tourist attractions, others are acknowledged through interpretive signage, and some are long-forgotten and dilapidated. Many have become ruinous and half-hidden by encroaching nature.

Concrete Castles celebrates these small but iconic buildings that were designed to protect Britain in time of war.  The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue including essays on the war artists who painted the subjects when new, why contemporary artists are now drawn to them, and a short history of Britain’s invasion scare in the summer of 1940.


Illustrated Curator Talk with Tim Craven – Friday 12 November, 7pm 

Contributing Artist Talk – Friday 22 October, 7pm 


Exhibition Admission

Admission to the exhibition is included in the museum’s usual ticket price.  For further information and opening hours please visit the museum’s website or call 01208 72810.  

The exhibition has been made possible thanks to the Arts Council England’s National Portfolio programme and Cornwall Museums Partnership.

Arts council England
Arts council England