Progress Report for 2006

Most of this year has been taken up by detailed inspections of the tower structures. We now have a clear picture of the overall structural condition of the Redsand Fort. A detailed evaluation has been carried out by Taylor Woodrow buildings pathologists and specific recommendations have been submitted.

Generally, the towers are in a remarkable condition considering the hostile environment in which they are situated.  However, urgent attention is required to arrest the corrosive action of its sea water environment, now on an acceleration curve.  A system known as Cathodic Protection must be applied as soon as possible. This method of inhibiting corrosion on marine structures is widely used, typically on oil rigs and seaside piers. The cost of implementation is high, up to £0.5 million in this case.  If this is not carried out, restoration of the towers could, in the longer term, be a waste of resources.

It is quite clear therefore, that if the towers where left in situ without attention, given the predicted acceleration in corrosion, within 10 years they may require removal. The current estimate for this work is in the region of £5 million and would increase over time.   The Cathodic program represents an investment of 10% of the demolition costs in order to retain the fort as a Heritage site. This matter is now being discussed with the relevant authorities.

The Yorkshire company Qualter Hall is preparing to construct two new walkway bridges linking two gun towers to the control tower in the summer of 2007. The preparation and installation work will be carried out by Carillion (formerly Mowlem Marine) and this is subject to approval being granted by the Port of London Authority. Surveys of the bridge support mounts at each tower are favourable; however, the supporting steelwork under the tower housing has to be replaced before any further loading is applied.

It was proposed that during 2006, temporary jungle bridges would be installed by the Royal Engineers to enable access to three towers. This plan was cancelled as it was considered sensible to invest in permanent walkways.  The cost of temporary walkways would be around 8 % of that of the permanent bridges.

A number of organisations have come forward offering support to the project enabling us to access modern technology and new materials. In many cases synthetic materials will be used in place of traditional, possibly reducing the total load to the columns. This would apply mainly to the cosmetic restoration and not to structural or load bearing elements.  Advanced coating systems will be applied and in some cases these will be participate in trials, evaluated over periods of time.

Various media groups are taking an interest in the developments at Redsands. During 2006  BBC 1 broadcast a 5 minute feature hosted by Dan Snow highlighting the wartime history as well as Radio 390’s occupation in the 1960’s. Another broadcast is scheduled for spring 2007 hosted by David Dimbleby. The History Channel is planning a documentary on the forts and extensive filming should commence in spring 2007. Two rock bands are planning to join us on the towers to record promotional videos for their music. They are: the well established British Sea Power and an up and coming Kent band, Sons of Alpha Centauri. Project Redsand are very keen to involve the arts world following the success of Stephen Turner’s expedition aboard Shivering Sands during 2005.

We shall keep you updated during the months ahead as many other topics regarding Redsands are currently under discussion.

DATED: 30/3/2006-26/4/2006-27/4/2006
Location: Thames Estuary, approx 7 miles North of Whitstable
County: Kent
Latitude/Longitude: 51.28.62N   0.59.60E

Full report available upon request.


English Heritage’s Monuments Protection Programme anti-aircraft gun sites study (Schofield 1999) sets out the context for Heavy Anti-aircraft batteries nationally and discusses the rarity and survival. The report states that:

‘All examples which are complete or near complete, with the majority of features present thus allowing the site to display its original form and function, will be described as nationally important and considered for scheduling’

The study’s recommendations were endorsed by English Heritage’s Ancient Monuments Advisory Committee (AMAC) in March 1999.

Redsand Fort is a well documented and intact example of a maritime Heavy Anti-aircraft battery in a rare sea fort form. The fort is a significant example of pioneering and ingenious wartime engineering forming part of a long history of coastal defence and fortification. Its early steel/concrete platform technology was to inform the construction of offshore oil and gas exploration platforms from the late 1940s onwards. The fort also has historic interest in its associations with the development of pirate radio in the 1960s.  The fort is extremely rare; of the original compliment of six army sea forts, only one other, at Shivering Sands, survives. However, as Shivering Sands Fort lost a gun tower in a 1963 shipping collision, Redsand Fort is the most complete example. Redsand Fort is therefore considered to be of special interest and of national importance as the best surviving example of a rare Second World War sea fort type.


Under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 the Secretary of State for the Department for Culture Media and Sport has a duty to compile and maintain a schedule of monuments. Monuments added to the schedule must be of national importance and inclusion affords them statutory protection. However, inclusion of new monuments on the schedule is at the Secretary of State’s discretion.

English Heritage, in its role as advisor to the Secretary of State on potential monuments, considers, in the first instance, whether the site is of national importance and secondly, whether inclusion on the schedule will be beneficial to the long term management of the site. The statutory protection afforded by inclusion on the schedule brings with it many restrictions on what can or cannot be done to a monument by owners, occupiers and managers. In summary, interested parties would need to obtain scheduled monument consent from the Secretary of State for any works which would affect a scheduled monument prior to being able to conduct said works. For example, consent would be required for repairs, alterations, additions or removal of part of a monument. Further information on these restrictions can be found in Scheduled Monuments: a guide for owners and occupiers (English Heritage, May 1994). Nationally important sites are therefore scheduled only if this is the best way to protect them.

Redsand Fort has been assessed and found to be of national importance. However, it is not considered that scheduling will be the most appropriate form of future management. The site is remote; the fort was designed to have a finite life and is a steel and concrete structure in a hostile marine environment. In order to secure the fort for the future it will be necessary to carry out remedial works, some of which have already begun under the umbrella of Project Redsand. It is not felt that it would be in the interest of the fort to schedule it and therefore impose the resulting restrictions upon the monument. Indeed it is felt that scheduling will be too heavy handed a control which might, in fact, be detrimental to the on-going and future management of the site.


It is recommended that the site should be subject to an archaeological survey prior to repair/restoration in order to record the monument in its present condition. Given the quality and extent of the surviving records it may be that a fully catalogued internal and external photographic record would be a sufficient compliment to the original engineering drawings. Copies of the record should then be deposited with the Kent Sites and Monuments Record and the National Monuments Record in Swindon to ensure public accessibility.

A decision not to schedule the fort for reasons of its most appropriate future management must not be allowed to detract from its value as a nationally important archaeological monument. It would not, for example, negate the planned action by Project Redsand to better understand the condition of the structure and its management needs, nor to increase the public understanding of a fascinating part of the heritage of the 1939-45 conflict. Government policy towards nationally important remains is to preserve these in situ, where it is feasible. Within the constraints of the materials and methods of construction of the fort and its maritime location there is reason to believe that the site could continue to be a feature of the outer Thames Estuary for a reasonable period yet. Some positive management of the fort will prolong its existence. It is understood from colleagues in our South-east regional team that English Heritage is not able to prioritise its own limited financial resources to this end but this should not be taken to mean that such action should not be supported by other means.


1. Project Redsand, in its request that the site should be considered for legal protection through designation, asked that Redsand Towers should be considered for listing or scheduling. Advice on the legality of listing a structure in this location was therefore sought from English Heritage’s Legal Services who confirmed that that the forts did not qualify for listing: Acts of Parliament do not, as a general rule, extend to the United Kingdom’s territorial waters (ie: the area between the low tide line to a distance of 12 miles). The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act (1979), under which monuments are scheduled, has an express provision at section 53 to the effect that a monument within the territorial waters of the UK may be scheduled. However, the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, under which structures are listed, has no such provision and is therefore only applicable down to the low tide line and not beyond. It is therefore not legally possible, under the current legislation, for the Redsand Towers to be listed.

your comments on the above report (extract) would be appreciated: please contact us


The Maunsell Sea Forts weekend at Whitstable Castle drew big crowds over the two day event. Check facebook for more pictures of the World War ll displays.  The 2007 event promises even more to see plus a firework display from the Redsand Fort.


Saturday and Sunday 8th and 9th April 2006

Hosted by Canterbury City Council

Admission is free and everyone is welcome.  A chance to meet the PRS team plus staff from the 1960’s fort based radio stations and ask all those questions.

The exhibition will include talks by Military Historian Frank R Turner on the construction and wartime history of the Thames and Mersey Sea Forts. Radio City DJ Bob Leroi will entertain guests with stories and chat about life aboard the forts during the 1960’s. As well as archive recordings, a huge array of photographs, videos and drawings will be on display.  An up to date virtual model featuring computer graphics by Project Redsand will enable visitors to virtually access the Towers and view the proposed interiors.

There will be boat trips out to the Forts during the weekend departing from Neptune Arm, Herne Bay, subject to prevailing weather conditions at the time.

For those of you wishing to view the Forts close up, please book in advance: for Bayblast on:  01227 – 373372, for Greta on 07711 – 657919 or at Whitstable Information Centre 01227 –275482.

Other events at the Sea Forts weekend will include:

Displays of wartime vehicles and other memorabilia by Invicta Military Preservation, re-enactments of life during WW2 by Hellfire Corner in Whitstable Castle grounds and re-enactments of smuggling during the war by Phoenix Performing Arts at the “Street” sand bar on Tankerton Beach. Refreshments and facilities available throughout.



Lace up those trainers and support the Royal National Lifeboat Institution Save Our Soles Day on Friday 27th January 2006 and help us save lives at sea.

We are asking for your help to make SOS a fantastic success by making sure all, work colleagues, friends and family take part. Get everyone to wear their favourite trainers for the day and donate at least £1 to the RNLI.

If you would like to take part, register for a SOS fundraising pack now at

With your support SOS can be bigger than ever and help to RNLI to fund our services saving lives at sea, last year we saved 486 lives and we rely on voluntary contributions to fund our vital service.

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