Thames Estuary Maunsell Forts

If you look out northwards out into the Thames estuary from the north Kent coast, on a clear day, two clumps of rectangular blocks can be observed. These are the Shivering Sands and Red Sands offshore forts that were built during the Second World War to counter attack enemy planes that were relying on the safety of the Thames estuary to come in to bomb London.

On a really clear day, an even stranger apparition appears way out on the horizon - seemingly there's a pagoda out there in the estuary! This is in fact Knock John naval fort, again built during the Second World War to protect the important shipping line from enemy ships and aircraft.

Join with me to take a closer look at these alien looking structures. This trip took place on 3rd June 2006. Note that some preservation work has since been done on the Red Sands fort in order to preserve a couple of the forts by Project Redsand.

Part 1 - The Journey Out The Journey Out
Part 2 - Knock John Fort Knock John Fort
Part 3 - Shivering Sands Fort Shivering Sands Fort
Part 4 - Red Sands Fort Red Sands Fort
Part 5 - Nore Fort (remains) Nore Fort (remains)

GPS Plots

The first plot taken from a GPS reciever that was plotting the journey shows the route taken from fort to fort. The reason for the kink in the outward journey was because the RHIB was taking a slight detour to avoid a large container ship that was crossing our path on our way to Knock John fort.

GPS route

This second plot maps speed over time. The gaps where the speed drops is where the boat slowed down to circle the forts.


Links & Credits

Thanks go to Bayblast who were the company who provided the transportation and who went the extra mile (well a few actually) to take us to Knock John Fort, something not normally included in their schedule. Since my visit, this company seems to have ceased trading as I can find no contemporary reference to them online.

"The Maunsell Sea Forts", by Frank Turner. This book and many other self published books, videos and photographs can be found at this site.


This page has many historic pictures and diagrams of the forts.

The images on this page at the published resolution are © 2006 Hywel Williams. You may re-use any of these images for non-commercial use as long as I'm credited the copyright.
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