SEA FORT PROJECT
The Thames Sea Forts are the last in a long history of British Marine Defences. The Army Anti Aircraft forts have played a significant role in post World War 2 developments. Notably in offshore fuel exploration and drilling platforms. The successful rapid deployment of the Maunsell Forts soon after led to the construction of the first offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico in the late 1940’s.
Up until 2003, no serious consideration had been paid to the preservation of any of these historic structures. Now discussion is taking place within Government Agencies which will determine the future of The Maunsell Towers.
Project Redsand has been established to secure the Redsand Towers, coded “Uncle 6” during WW2 and chosen because it is the better of the two Army forts, closest to shore and clear of the main shipping lanes.
Project Redsand have, since August 2003, been in discussion with Government Agencies about this proposal. Concerns such as the stability and structural integrity of the fort have been addressed. During July 2004, a survey team inspected the fort on behalf of Project Redsand. A Port of London Authority diving team together with Taylor Woodrow materials specialists were present at
the initial inspections.
Mowlem Marine, experts in marine structures, installed a new safe access system for Project Redsand in 2005. Materials were donated by a number of River Thames companies. Other companies around the UK are now preparing to assist Project Redsand.
Meanwhile, the Department for Culture Media and Sport have considered an application to list the structures. A summary of their report can be seen on the News page. The Project Team are seeking sponsorship and grant aid for the restoration program which will form a Charitable Trust.
The Ministry of Defence is to supply a team of Royal Engineers who, as part of a training exercise will assist working parties at the Fort.
The duration of the restoration program will be determined by the availability of funding. This may take a number of years to realise. Patience, determination and hard work will be essential.
To date, media support has been excellent. The Project has been covered by the Times, BBC Breakfast TV, The Telegraph and a host of local TV, Radio and newspapers.
July 2007 saw the first licensed broadcast from the Redsand Fort. The 10 day Restricted Service Licence allowed transmission on medium wave and a webcast, commemorating 40 years since the demise of “offshore radio” from the Thames Estuary forts. Red Sands Radio was sponsored by Canterbury City Council and the Lottery Fund.
FUTURE USE OF THE FORT
The fort will be restored on a tower by tower basis. Upon completion, each tower will be put to immediate use. The Redsand Fort will generate ‘self funding’ – the proceeds used to maintain and develop facilities.
The layout of the towers allows us to exploit various activities including music recording studios, communications facilities, hydrogen from seawater experiments, a wartime and broadcasting museum and possibly digital broadcast. From time to time, the towers may be used for “assault training” by the Royal Engineers Theatre Troops. The general public will have the opportunity to visit the Fort in small groups. Special events will be arranged including weddings and corporate outings.