Marine Architecture: The Abandoned British Sea Forts

Sea forts make a very important warfare structure wherever they have been established at various times in the maritime history. In Britain, a number of such sea forts were erected especially during the course of World War II. These sea forts are an amazing example of marine architecture, which still stand as source of inspiration for present architects. However, most of these British sea forts are abandoned today, as they became redundant after their service during the wars.

Of all the abandoned British sea forts, the Maunsell sea forts are the most famous ones. Constructed by architect named Guy Maunsell, these sea forts served excellently during their stint in WWII. However, ever since the war got over, these forts were pretty much in state of neglect until the government made some considerate efforts towards them.

The most famous, Maunsell sea forts are a group of four fortified structures which were placed to combat everything from a military attack to an air raid. Namely- Rough Sands, Sunk Head, Tongue Sands and the Knock John, each Maunsell sea fort made of concrete played its part in deferring German attacks, air raids and land mines. All the four sea forts were decommissioned in 1950s. Now these structures serve as a micro nation called the ‘Sea land’.

Maunsell Forts
Image for representation purpose only

Located in the Thames estuary, every single Maunsell sea fort of this entire assembly is a living example of horrors of the war that shook the world. However, these structures braved every blow of the war and are still standing tall, continuing to fascinate the world and sea explorers all the same.

Another British sea fort that lost its use after sometime is located around Portsmouth, along with few others in the same region. They were constructed somewhere in mid-1800s mainly for better defensive strength in these areas. However, soon these forts got out of use. They include the Horse Sands, Spitbank, St. Helens and No Man’s land. Even though all of them are no longer in use for military purposes, British sea fort No Man’s land has been converted in to full scale luxury resort.

Spitbank Fort
Image for representation purpose only

Others like Spitbank are now used as a museum to display the history of this region besides being used as a hotel and event space. Most of these sea forts were abandoned under the private ownership and had no hope of being revived ever again for any purpose whatsoever. However, they were put to other uses and they continue to serve some function.

In Southampton, the Nab tower which was created somewhere in 1918 now serves as a lighthouse of this region. This particular tower was created with the aim of protecting the cargo vessels from attacks of German submarines which were quite common during that time. After having served their function as that, this tower went out of use until it was converted into a lighthouse.

The story behind this tower states that initially, a total of eight similar towers were supposed to make an entire sea forts’ assembly for maximum protection but later plans were revised and only a single tower was established.

British sea forts are numerous and are spread all over Britain. Even though many of them are no longer used for same defensive purposes they were designed for, they have found other purposes of their own. Efforts are being made to revive even those abandoned structures that have been pretty much neglected for a long time now.

References: gadmodo, weburbanist, atlasobscura

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