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Report - Grain Tower Battery, Isle of Grain, Kent - June 2014

Discussion in 'Military Sites' started by Peking, Jun 16, 2014.

  1. Peking

    Peking 28DL Full Member
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    A bit of history first:

    Grain Tower battery off the Isle of Grain in Kent, was built around 1855 as a Martello Tower type structure in the Thames Estuary close to the mouth of the River Medway. It’s original purpose was to serve as a key military installation, protecting Chatham and Sheerness dockyards as well as The Thames. The intention was to close the Medway to hostile shipping by providing a firebase that would work in conjunction with the fortifications at Sheerness. Due to the instability of the spot chosen for the fort, over 200 timber piles of around 30 feet in length were driven into the sand with stone paving laid over it for the foundations. At low tide, the tower can be reached by a causeway, but at high tide it is completely surrounded by water.

    Originally the tower was armed with cannons mounted on the roof and barrack accommodation and magazines below. Over the years, it was added to and modified, and significant upgrades were made during the first half of the 20th Century. A vast chain was wrapped around the base of the Grain Tower to which boom lines were fixed, the idea being to block the passage of enemy vessels (including WW1 German U-boats) passing up the river. Later additions to the armaments include two Quick-firing guns, followed by major improvements during WW2 which included a two-storey adjoining accommodation block, two six-pounder guns, and a three-storey Observation Post built on top of the tower. The tower was manned until the 1950s, and was eventually sold after falling into disrepair.

    The tower survives as an interesting example of how advances in artillery resulted in adaptation of a defence structure, and significant features still remain, such as the machinery for the shell hoist. The tower is currently up for sale again and its future remains uncertain.


    The trip

    There have been a few reports of this place but I’ve not seen much recent which led me to believe that it was now less accessible. It's only an hour from London though so I decided it was worth a shot and armed with some wellies and a tide table I set out for the barren industrial wastelands of the Thames Estuary.

    The location is pretty much miles from anywhere so aside from the occasional dog walker this stretch of coast is more or less deserted. At low tide, the fort is accessible by a 500 metre walk along a brick causeway that’s definitely seen better days so I was definitely glad of my boots.. I was sinking in to the mud almost a foot at some points! Entry was even easier than I’d hoped thanks to the efforts of a previous (more official?) visitor… the recent looking addition in the form of a ladder up into the structure making things easy.

    Inside, the fort is a wicked little explore, with various rooms, staircases, nooks and crannies all haphazardly arranged, leading ultimately to a deck where the heavy artillery was originally mounted, and a lookout/gun room even higher with erm.. 'great' views over the Isles of Grain and Sheppey. Most of the rooms are totally stripped back, though there are still a few fixtures in place. For me though the main appeal of this site is the sheer random location and atmosphere when sitting on an 80 year old gun encasement half a kilometre from dry land...

    I’d started early but the tide was already racing back in, so after 90 minutes I packed up my little picnic and headed back to shore.


    Here are some pics:

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    Cheers for looking :) A few more here......

    Grain Tower Battery Photos by Pek_Ing | Photobucket
     

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  2. wellingtonian

    wellingtonian Subterráneo
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    Something a little different. Well done for making the effort :thumb
     
  3. REEF

    REEF Getthegirlkillthebaddies
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    I was here yesterday! Top place for an explore.
    Did you go to the top?
     
  4. Peking

    Peking 28DL Full Member
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    Excellent... I did wonder if I might see anyone on my trip but it was a little early! Made it up to the sentry point at the top but had to stand on tip toes to see out if i remember rightly. Thought the loo (complete with bog roll) was a nice touch....
     
  5. REEF

    REEF Getthegirlkillthebaddies
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    We were there end of the day, had to wait for the tide to go out.
     
  6. the126

    the126 Reckless & irresponsible
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    Nice report Peking, its a very interesting place:thumb

    I wondered if we might see anyone there yesterday but it seems you were a low tide ahead of us:)
     
  7. Will Knot

    Will Knot 28DL Regular User
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    Great report, nice to see, good pics also, thanks for sharin' :thumb
     
  8. Bugsuperstar

    Bugsuperstar Irresponsible & Reckless
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    Nice to see this place again. Good stuff :thumb
     
  9. Peking

    Peking 28DL Full Member
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  10. Vixxie

    Vixxie 28DL Regular User
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    When we were there it wasn't that deserted. We came across a number of people who came to have a pick (individually). Some made the way up, some didn't. They all left by the time we got inside it was ok. Cool place, especially in a good weather.
     
  11. Pinkman

    Pinkman 28DL Regular User
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    This one was pretty interesting, & surprisingly easy to get to considering it's practically out at sea!
    Though saying that, I had to carry Vixxie over a really sludgy part as she didn't have the right footwear ��
     
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