Britain’s most surreal architectural relics?
These striking towers were built to help shoot down enemy planes intent on bombing London in the Second World War. Just a few kilometres from the shore, they still sit there today, slowly rusting in the mouth of the Thames off the coast of Kent.
The forts had some success. The soldiers stationed there shot down a total of 22 attacking German aircraft and 30 doodlebugs, protecting densely populated London from even more devastation. The most intense bombing attack by Nazi Germany on London was the so-called ‘Blitz’. It started on 7 September 1940, and 76 consecutive nights of bombing on London followed. By the time it ended in May 1941, more than 1 million homes of the capital's homes had been destroyed.
Redsands, originally one of four sea forts in the Thames Estuary, is made up of seven separate towers - 5 gun towers, a searchlight tower and a central control tower. A walkway would originally have connected them all together. During use, over 100 men would have been stationed at the fort for periods of 6 weeks at a time, watching the skies for enemy bombers intent on destroying the capital.
After the war, the sea forts were decommissioned and left abandoned until another more controversial use was found for them. In 1964 the pirate radio station Invicta occupied Redsands Fort and began broadcasting a mix of pop and rock music, bringing new ‘frowned upon’ sounds to an eager generation of teenagers. Pirate radio stations operated without a license, they were unregulated and could play whatever music they chose, much to the annoyance of the government at the time.