Coalhouse Fort, East Tilbury

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A variety of guns were added to Coalhouse Fort in the Second World War for coastal and anti-aircraft defence, and also a loopholed wall firing position. . Other features in the vicinity include a Minefield Control tower, a radar tower, and a monitoring station for checking that ships were adequately protected against magnetic mines.

In July 1940 2  5.5-inch (140 mm) . former naval guns were added to the fort. These guns, formerly on HMS Hood, had a range of 12,500 yards (11,430 m) and were mounted in shelters on the roof of the casemates, utilizing the right-hand pair of the older 6-inch. (150 mm) emplacements. To permit night firing, two remotely-controlled 120cm searchlights were installed on the north caponier. Two light anti-aircraft guns were mounted on the roof of the casemates, one of these being a Bofors 40-mm. emplaced in August 1943. For defence against land attack, a loopholed wall firing position was built on the far end of the north caponier. The roof of the caponier has been formed into a 'Rifle Section Support Trench'. The outer (east) edge of the roof has been widened to 8ft and has been built up with granite blocks. The perimeter of the fort was prepared for defence against ground assault by the provision of belts of barbed wire, trenches and, at the gorge, two spigot mortar positions (these were probably placed here from different locations in the 1960's). A nearby electrically-fired minefield in the river was apparently controlled from the still surviving detached concrete observation tower built to the front of the casemates. For a while during the war, the fort had an additional role as a naval monitoring station to check that the electronic countermeasures of outgoing ships against German magnetic mines remained effective. Shipping passed over submerged sensors in the river which were linked by cables to the monitoring station in the brick building on the roof of the fort between the two 5.5-in. emplacements. Detection equipment within this building revealed whether they were within safe limits. Near the fort, a massive radar tower stands on the north bank of the River Thames. It is hexagonal, approximately 30' (9 m) wide x 60' (18 m) high and comprises three levels. The ground level is brick-built with two entrances leading to five rooms. The middle level comprises criss-crossed girders and an iron staircase leading to the third level which is constructed of concrete and once housed the aerial array.

Searchlight emplacement

Searchlight emplacement

Top of fort showing gun emplacements

Top of fort showing gun emplacements

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