Home » London History » The Maunsell Forts in the Thames Estuary

The Maunsell Forts in the Thames Estuary

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Many people travelling to London by sea are intrigued by a number of towers within the Thames estuary.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

These towers are called Maunsell Forts and were armed during the Second World War to help defend the London and South Coast. They were operated as army and navy forts and named after their designer, Guy Maunsell.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The Maunsell naval forts were operated by the Royal Navy, to deter and report German air raids which attempted to follow the Thames into the city, they were also used to prevent attempts to lay mines in this important shipping channel. This artificial naval fort was similar to offshore oil platforms. With a concrete pontoon base with a superstructure of two 24-foot (7.3 m) concrete towers. The crew lived on the towers and the main deck was used for anti-aircraft guns.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Maunsell designed army forts for anti-aircraft defence. These were larger installations comprising seven interconnected steel platforms. During World War II, the Thames estuary forts shot down 22 aircraft and about 30 flying bombs.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The forts were decommissioned by the Ministry of Defence in the late 1950s, but some where used for pirate radio broadcasts in the 1960s.

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