Report - - East Tilbury Gun Battery, Essex, 16th April 2010 | Military Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - East Tilbury Gun Battery, Essex, 16th April 2010


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
I apologise in advance for the quality of photos. I was not particularly thinking of framing, lighting etc. during this time. I will also ensure I do not get people in the shots in future reports.

Often visited the Coalhouse Fort as a kid with my family and heard my Dad mention about playing in both the derelict fort and the nearby gun battery when he was a child. I eventually got together with one of my like minded mates (and his dog) to explore the area and locate it. Did not take long to pin point the possible location using Google Maps, to the East of Princess Margaret Road, behind the village, facing out to The Thames.

The gun battery was built between 1889 and 1890 to support the nearby Coalhouse Fort. The style of gun battery is known as a "Twydall Profile" which employ sloping earthworks for speed and cheapness to build, it also blended the installation into the landscape. The gun emplacements housed retractable guns to aid disguising the battery - a change from the pre-19th Century installations which were more designed to dominate a landscape - such as the nearby Coalhouse Fort. The battery was decommissioned just before WW1. I believe the site is currently owned by the farmer who lives at Bowaters Farm AA Battery, about 1Km away on the other side of Princess Margaret Road.

Two 10 inch and four 6 inch guns were in use on the site. Guns would have been retracted for loading and aiming and then raised briefly to fire before retracting again. The supporting infrastructure was below the gun emplacements, built into the hillside and hidden from view. Power magazines, accommodation, cookhouse, toilet, possibly a small jail and an office. A guard house is also standing a little away from the main installation, along what would have been the main entrance lane. The site appears to be surrounded by an original spiked fence.

Externally the site was very overgrown but inside the detailing was unexpectedly fresh. The signage and paint work was breathtaking - I would only have expected to find this quality in a maintained site such as Coalhouse Fort. The majority of the shell lifting gear was also present and in place - easy to see how the equipment would have been used when the site was active. What I believe to be original bed spreads are also present in the accommodation block.

The guard house with the only fireplace:

The guard house with the only fireplace.

Entrance to the main infrastructure, below the gun emplacements:





This area seemed to be a small jail with bars on the window with the ablutions and toilet block directly behind:




Slate urinals still exist in the undergrowth:



I believe this is the cookhouse, with the jail/ablutions block in the background:


Steps to one of the gun emplacements:


The gun emplacements which housed the retractable guns. Apparently this is a rare example of such a site with exposed emplacements, many have had their emplacements filled in:







The top of a shell lift:


Below ground shell lifts:





Beneath the gun emplacements is the accommodation block, this appears to be the remains of one of many beds:


Lighting passage. Naked flame lights were placed in these passages which were separated from the ammunition magazines by glass windows. This allowed the magazines to be lit up, without risking explosion:


Issuing Hatch through which shells would have been handed before being carted off to a shell lift and lifted to the guns above:




Spiked fence which surrounds the site. i believe this to be original, seen similar fencing on similar age military sites before:




28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Yeh the signage is my favourite part - especially the Lighting Passage shot. I have returned here a few times over the years, will dig out the photos and compare how it has aged in other reports.

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