English Maunsell Water Forts were created as defensive platforms located off the English coast during the Second World War. The United Kingdom used the Maunsell Water Forts to guard themselves against bombs. However, today, the forts are dilapidated structures that you can only access via boat.
The Need for Coastline Protection
During World War II, the ports in London became vulnerable to German bombing by sea and by air. The UK had to develop a strategy to protect themselves from the Germans along the coastline. As a result, they built the water forts to destroy the foreign boats before any armies could get to the coastline.
After the UK decommissioned the English Maunsell Water Forts in the 1950s, the forts became a radio broadcasting center.
Structural Design of the Maunsell Water Forts
The water fort’s designer Guy Maunsell inspired the name: Maunsell Water Forts. A British civil engineer, Maunsell was famous for his innovative bridge and concrete designs. In 1942, Maunsell built the anti-aircraft towers on a waterfront with a reinforced concrete pontoon base. 18-meter-high concrete towers supported the buildings, with four crew quarters divided into seven floors on the interior. Other rooms in the fort included a dining area, generator, and anti-aircraft ammunition storage areas.
The design of the towers was similar to a military-grade bunker, where a steel platform deck connected the towers above the waterline. The buildings had edges of the poles solidly locking the fort into the seabed.
The Maunsell Water Forts had seven wooden buildings surrounding a central command tower. It seemed invincible; however, a ship struck Maunsell’s, Nore Army Fort; after a storm damaged it further, the Army dismantled the fort in 1959 and 1960.
Maunsell’s Different Design Concepts
The Naval Forts
Maunsell’s naval forts were formidable structures consisting of two hollow cylindrical towers. His design divided the open cylindrical towers into many floors, including:
- Storage rooms
- Sleeping quarters for the 120 man crew
- Anti-aircraft firearm storage
The naval forts were named:
- Sunk Head
- Tongue Sands
- Rough Sands
- Knock John
The Army Forts
By 1943, Manusell came up with a new fort design consisting of several linked steel platforms around a central commanding tower.
The seven towers were arranged in a semi-circle ahead of the accommodation and control tower. An adjacent building was mounted with searchlights to detect approaching enemies.
The army forts were named:
- Queens AA Towers
- Formby AA Towers
- Burbo AA Towers
- Shivering Sands
- Red Sands
Maunsell Forts Today
Today, the Maunsell Water Forts have lost their original usage, but occasionally, you will glimpse a fort in the background of a movie or music video. However, the fort’s state of decay does not allow people to visit the location without express permission and knowledge of accessing the site safely.
While we cannot visit these forts in person, we can certainly read and learn more about their extensive history in protecting the UK.