WWII Sea Forts Now Abandoned

Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
June 12 2013 7:45 AM

WWII Sea Forts Taken Over by Pirate Radio

Atlas Obscura on Slate is a new travel blog. Like us on FacebookTumblr, or follow us on Twitter @atlasobscura.

Rising from the water like rusty invaders out of H.G. Wells, the Maunsell Army Forts in the Thames Estuary are decaying reminders of the darkest days of World War II.

Part of the Thames Estuary defense network, the anti-aircraft tower-forts were constructed in 1942, with each fort consisting of a cluster of seven stilted buildings surrounding a central command tower. When operational, catwalks connected the buildings. Built on land and then transported to their watery homes, the forts were designed by Guy Maunsell, a British civil engineer. Originally there were three of these forts, but only two are left standing: the Redsands Fort and the Shivering Sands Fort.

After their successful wartime career, the forts were decommissioned in the 1950s. In the 1960s and 70s, the remaining abandoned forts were famously taken over as a pirate radio station playing rock and roll. A ship collided with the towers destroying one of them, but the station regrouped and installed new equipment. In 1966 one of the people claiming ownership of the station was killed in scuffle with another, and the government responded with legislation shutting down off-shore radio stations.

More recently, Shivering Sands was occupied by the artist Stephen Turner for 36 days in 2005, roughly the same amount of time a WWII serviceman would have spent at the fort. He described the project as an experiment in isolation and wrote a blog and a book about his experience. In 2008 electronic artists The Prodigy filmed the end of their music video "Invaders Must Die" at Redsands.

Advertisement

All of the Army Forts are currently abandoned.

More photos of the Maunsell Army Sea Forts can be seen on Atlas Obscura

Abandoned remains of WWII:


View Maunsell Army Sea Forts in a larger map

TODAY IN SLATE

The Juice

Ford’s Big Gamble

It’s completely transforming America’s best-selling vehicle.

Should the United States Grant Asylum to Victims of Domestic Violence?

The Apple Watch Will Make Everyone Around You Just a Little Worse Off

This Was the First Object Ever Designed

Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 

Moneybox

How the Apple Watch Will Annoy Us

A glowing screen attached to someone else’s wrist is shinier than all but the blingiest jewels.

Music

A Little Bit Softer Now, a Little Bit Softer Now …

The sad, gradual decline of the fade-out in popular music.

Is Everyone Going to Declare Independence if Scotland Does It? 

I Tried to Write an Honest Profile of One of Bollywood’s Biggest Stars. It Didn’t Go Well.

Trending News Channel
Sept. 12 2014 11:26 AM Identical Twins Aren’t Really Identical
  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 12 2014 7:24 PM Come and Take It Libertarians fight for people whose property was seized by the police.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 12 2014 5:54 PM Olive Garden Has Been Committing a Culinary Crime Against Humanity
  Life
Outward
Sept. 12 2014 3:32 PM Yes, Those Straight Guys Who Wed for Rugby Tickets Are Mocking Marriage. What’s New?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 12 2014 4:05 PM Life as an NFL Wife: “He's the Star. Keep Him Happy.”
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 12 2014 5:55 PM “Do You Know What Porn Is?” Conversations with Dahlia Lithwick’s 11-year-old son.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 14 2014 7:10 PM Watch Michael Winslow Perform Every Part of “Whole Lotta Love” With Just His Voice
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 12 2014 3:53 PM We Need to Pass Legislation on Artificial Intelligence Early and Often
  Health & Science
New Scientist
Sept. 14 2014 8:38 AM Scientific Misconduct Should Be a Crime It’s as bad as fraud or theft, only potentially more dangerous.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 12 2014 4:36 PM “There’s No Tolerance for That” Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh say they don’t abide domestic abuse. So why do the Seahawks and 49ers have a combined six players accused of violence against women?