Tuesday, November 03, 2009
The Maunsell Forts
A bit of background to the two latest paintings first. The Maunsell Sea Forts in the Thames and Mersey estuary are a series of small fortified towers built a few miles from shore during World War II to help defend the UK and especially London, during The Blitz. The Thames estuary was seen as a chink in the British armoury as it provided a relatively smooth path to London for the German airforce to fly over, avoiding the anti-aircraft guns which proliferated on the terra firma of Kent and Essex. The individual anti-aircraft tower sets comprise seven interconnected steel platforms, five carried guns arranged in a semi-circle around the control centre and accommodation while the seventh, set further out than the gun towers, was the searchlight tower. The forts are named after their designer, Guy Maunsell. Two of Maunsell’s fortification 'pods', Red Sands and Shivering Sands, are visible on a clear day from both Whitstable and Herne Bay (North Kent) shorelines but also looking south from the North side of the Thames estuary (county of Essex). They were decommissioned in the late 1950s but were used by various pirate radio stations during the 60s and 70s. These days you can see them up close and personal by boat trip from Whitstable and Herne Bay harbours.