Friday, June 24, 2016

Maunsell Forts

Maunsell Forts

Maunsell Forts – Armed Towers

The Maunsell Forts are said to be armed towers built in the Thames and Mersey bays during the Second World War in order assist in defending the United Kingdom and operated as army and naval forts. In 1942, the Maunsell Sea Forts were constructed and decommissioned in the late 1950s and later utilised for other undertakings comprising of pirate radio broadcasting.

The Maunsell Sea Forts situated off shore on the Thames estuary, are said to be some of the most bizarre-looking structures which have been named after Guv Maunsell the civil engineer who designed them. It is said that they were abandoned in 1958 though some of them still tend to stand till date. During the World War II when Great Britain came across serious attacks from the Luftwaffe, the forts seemed to have a very short though intense life.

There has been little which could be done on land in order to counteract the continuance attack on the naval organization. Though known collectively as Maunsell forts there seems to be two diverse designs with various purposes. There are three-three army forts on the Thames bay close to the mainland and on the Mersey and further offshore are another four naval forts in the Thames bay.

Four Naval Forts – First to be Built

The army forts comprising of seven circular shaped forts have been linked through a walkway. The naval forts tend to have two cylindrical towers which are connected by a gun platform overhead.The first forts to be installed were the four naval forts which had been built from February and June 1942 and these forts accommodated 120 men each, typically below the waterline.

 The structures were constructed onshore and then sunk in their position, offshore. The naval forts on the other hand were single structures which had seven floors and each fort had Bofors guns and radar. From the unique four naval forts, only two seemed to last till date and one of these last two forts tend to presently host the self-proclaimed Principality of Sealand.

Guy Maunsell had designed a new kind of fort in 1943 which seemed more innovative and each fort comprised of a central control tower connected to six satellites. From the three army forts located in the Thames bay, the Nore Army Fort seemed to be the closest to the shore and is the only one which does not exist since it had been damaged severely during the 50’s and had been demolished towards 1960.

Red Sands Army Fort – Linked by Walkways

The Red Sands army fort made up of seven forts is linked by walkways and there is an on-going attempt of restoring the Red Sands army forts since they have been considered to be in good condition. The Shivering Sands Army Fort placed more than nine miles away from the shores, presently remains abandoned. Out of the seven forts which have been built here, there seems to be only six that remains till date after one of the forts had been hit in 1963, by a Norwegian boat.

It has served as the location of the first pirate radio which broadcast from the Maunsell forts. And its future seems uncertain though there are plans of dismantling it.From the time of the war, they had been placed under maintenance though they soon lost any planned importance and were utilised in various ways.

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