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Coalhouse Fort battery and artillery defences

A Scheduled Monument in East Tilbury, Thurrock

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Latitude: 51.4635 / 51°27'48"N

Longitude: 0.4327 / 0°25'57"E

OS Eastings: 569084.310498

OS Northings: 176641.047442

OS Grid: TQ690766

Mapcode National: GBR NMG.27N

Mapcode Global: VHJLD.GG3Y

Entry Name: Coalhouse Fort battery and artillery defences

Scheduled Date: 9 August 1962

Last Amended: 12 September 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013943

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12707

County: Thurrock

Electoral Ward/Division: East Tilbury

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: East and West Tilbury and Linford

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford


The monument comprises the Victorian Coalhouse Fort at East Tilbury, with its
associated railway link and jetty and its rifle range, as well as the
foundations of an Henrician `blockhouse' coastal battery, a late 19th century
`Quick-Firer' battery and a low-level radar tower dating from World War II.
The earliest of this remarkable seguence of Thameside defences is the
blockhouse, the construction of which was ordered by Henry VIII in 1539/40.
It was built of stone and timber robbed from St Margaret's Chantry nearby.
Nothing is visible of the structure itself but the landward ditch survives as
a creek, and timber palisading running along the shore in the area may belong
to this phase. Beside the blockhouse a jetty was built, perhaps initially to
support the blockhouse but later to land coal. After several phases of
rebuilding, the jetty served Coalhouse Fort, to which it was joined by a full-
gauge railway line which survives almost intact but for the tracks themselves.
The first phase of the fort, begun in 1799, was replaced in 1847-55 by a more
complex structure which was in turn superseded by the present buildings
between 1861-74. This latest fort was added to in the First and Second World
Wars and only went out of military use in 1949. Near the waterfront a little
distance from the fort are a 19th century battery for Quick-Firer guns and
searchlights, a rifle range and a World War II low-level radar tower. The
structures form a remarkable group of defensive sites at the strategically
important Coalhouse Point.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Coalhouse Fort is a remarkably well preserved late 19th century fort built on
the recommendation of the Royal Commission on the Defence of the UK in 1860.
It is one of the finest examples of an armoured casemate fort in England and
is well documented historically. The jetty and railway line are an integral
part of the fort.
The Henrician blockhouse is well documented historically and has high
archaeological potential due to waterlogging. Such a site adds to the
knowledge of the coastal fortifications made by Henry VIII. The Quick-Firer
battery, built in 1893, is the sole surviving purpose-built battery of its
type in the Thames basin. The rifle range is an unusual survival which adds
to the known range of earthwork monuments and is closely associated with the
fort. Virtually intact World War II radar installations of the type at East
Tilbury are known at only two other places in England, making this an
extremely rare survivor of a once widespread system.
The group of structures demonstrate the former strategic importance of
Coalhouse Point and demonstrate the changing approaches to defence over 400
years. Furthermore the sites formed elements of wider defence systems
designed to protect the Thames Estuary and especially London.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Raymond, W, 'Essex Archaeology and History' in The Med Hospitals At E And W Tilbury And Henry VIII's Forts, , Vol. 19, (1988), 19
Saunders, Mr A D, 'Antiquaries Journal' in Tilbury Fort and the Development of Artillery Fortification..., (1960), 152-74
Saunders, Mr A D, 'Antiquaries Journal' in Tilbury Fort and the Development of Artillery Fortification..., (1960)
Smith, VT C, 'Coalhouse Fort Project' in Coalhouse Fort and the Artillery Defences at East Tilbury, (1985)
Smith, VT C, 'Coalhouse Fort Project' in Coalhouse Fort and the Artillery Defences at East Tilbury, (1985), 152-74
Smith, VT C, 'Coalhouse Fort Project' in Coalhouse Fort and the Artillery Defences at East Tilbury, (1985), 152-74
Wilson, J D, 'Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research' in Later 19th Century Defences of the Thames, , Vol. 12, (1963)
Catton, J, Coalhouse Fort Project, Unpublished excavations
Essex Record Office D/Q 18/P2, 1735, (1735)
Smith, V T C and Catton, J, Recommendations for Scheduling of Several Military Structures, 1984, Unpublished report
Supplied by J Catton, Thurrock D.C., Catton, J,
Title: 1596
Source Date: 1596
Reported by J Catton, source unknown

Source: Historic England

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