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COALHOUSE FORT

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Coalhouse Fort is a remarkably well preserved late 19th century fort built on the recommendation of the Royal Commission on the Defence of the UK in 1860. Built on the site of a D-shaped artillery castle built in 1539, it is one of the finest examples of an armoured casemate fort in England and represents the third fort to stand on the site. The first phase of the Fort, begun in 1799, was replaced in 1847-55 by a more complex structure which was in turn superceded by the present buildings between 1861-74. In 1903 Coalhouse Fort was refortified with 5-6 feet of concrete placed on top of the 1860 battery roof - structural strengthening to support the weight of new guns. By the start of the First World War the primary defence line for the estuary had moved down river. The invasion scare of 1940 brought a new lease of life and the Fort was re-occupied again responding to a perceived threat of German invasion by sea. There were high expectations for the Fort in the Second World War but eventually the Home Guard took over in 1943. After a brief period as a naval training centre the fortification was decommissioned and used for storage by the local Bata Shoe Company. In 1962 Thurrock Borough Council took over the responsibility of the building from the Ministry of Defence for development as a riverside amenity. Conservation of the Fort started in 1983, and it was consolidated into the Coalhouse Fort project in 1985. The Coalhouse Fort Project Management Committee are hoping that most of the barrack block can be restored, including replacing roofs and floors, to provide interpretation of rooms such as the Cell block, the canteen and living quarters as they would have been in 1860, the Great War or the Second World War.

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Further information about monuments may be obtained by contacting Archive Services, through the English Heritage website.