Cool stuff: Maunsell forts, a little off the beaten track

I occasionally come across things that are so cool that, while they sort of fall outside the usual scope of Well Dressed Dad, I just have to mention them anyway. The Maunsell forts are a case in point. If you’ve ever seen them, they’ve probably made an impression on you in one way or another.


Army style sea fort.


Sea forts, what on earth might that be then? Well, way back in the dark days of WW2 when Britain was being routinely bombed by German bombers, an innovative chap by the name of Guy Maunsell designed an sea fort that could be deployed offshore where the water depth wasn’t too great. There were two variants: the army fort that was made up as clusters of 7 parts, connected by walkways, each part having it’s own specific purpose, or navy forts, where a platform is placed upon two large concrete cylinders (the notorious crackpot idea “Sealand” is homed on one of these).

Army style sea fort at Red Sands in 2012.

Army style sea fort at Red Sands in 2012.

Placed off the coast in the Thames and Mersey estuaries in 1943, they enjoyed some success in shooting down enemy aircraft and flying bombs, 22 and around 30, respectively. Post-war they were maintained until being decommissioned in 1953, after which some saw use as bases for pirate radio stations. Or, as mentioned, being home to eccentrics attempting to create a new sovereign state.

Naval style sea fort.

Naval style sea fort.

Mainly though,they’ve just stood there, as silent sentinels, keeping an eye out.  Waiting for something to give them a sense of purpose again. In the meantime though, some have been hit by errant boats and collapsed or been dismantled. Some still stand to this day though, 70 years since they were dragged out and set in place. They look like something out of Star Wars, or perhaps something the Daleks would construct.

I’d love to take a boat out and see them for myself.


  • Brian in Alberta 22/02/2015 at 23:06

    If I’m interested in what a particular “menswear” blogger has to say about cloths then I’m also often interested in what they have to say about other things as well. And I’m mostly interested in what you have to say about cloths so broadening your topic selection will get no complaints from me.

    The Maunsell forts are interesting. When I completed my training in eastern Canada as an industrial technologist I had planned to sign on to the Hibernia platform (about 300km from the Newfoundland coast); seemed like a cool place to spend a couple of weeks at a time. I actually wound up in the oil fields of Alberta but have kept a fascination for these kinds of structures.

  • Charlotte Engstad 23/02/2015 at 18:52

    Those photos are just amazing, love it! Do you know if they are abandoned or if actually someone lives in them?

    • Well Dressed Dad 23/02/2015 at 20:09

      All totally abandoned! I think it would be tough to live in/on one, a pretty solitary existence! There is someone living on Sealand though, or so I believe. Part of trying to keep it as a sovereign “nation”, no doubt.


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