Essex Regiment & Essex Militia History

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Coalhouse Fort, East Tilbury

This lovely Photograph was provided by Coalhouse Fort

In 1539 King Henry 8th gave orders for the construction of a blockhouse on the site of Coalhouse Fort as part of the defence works for London on the River Thames.

The blockhouse constructed was one of a series of fortifications  that were built at times of tension and then demolished at times of peace on this site. Most were open gun batteries or small forts.

The current fort was built from 1861 and completed in 1874 with its full armament in place by 1877.

By 1900 the fort was fitted with four Naval BL guns which had a range of up to 8 miles and four12pounder quick firing guns.

During World War One the fort was initially manned by members of the Territorial Royal Garrison Artillery based at Stratford. Later it was manned by the Essex and Suffolk Royal Garrison Artillery and then used mainly as barracks.

Searchlights operated by the London Electrical Engineers were mounted at the fort which was no longer one of the main river defences for London. It's main use was to check shipping en route to London with it's guard ship HMS Champion.

During World War Two the Fort was again used as a base to check incoming shipping travelling to the Port of London. This was achieved not only by guns but by a minefield established in the River Thames at this point.

The fort also acted as a degaussing point to protect ships from magnetic mines.

The building also housed a combined operations base.

Its most obviously military use was as an anti aircraft base with searchlight and two anti aircraft guns that were in frequent use on aircraft following the river on their way to London.

In 1983 the fort was in poor condition and restoration began to take place.

The fort is managed by Coalhouse Fort Project who have opened the fort to the public as part of their fund raising activities to continue restoration.

The fort is situated in riverside parkland with a memorial park.

Inside the fort the fortification are open to view and there is a fort museum and the Thameside Aviation Museum.

Click here to visit the Coalhouse Fort website and find out more information and details of current admission fees.

Click here to visit the Coalhouse Fort Park website.

Click here for details of the Two Forts Walk starting at Coalhouse Fort