Coalhouse Fort is a Victorian coastal defence fort set in parkland next to the river Thames at East Tilbury, Essex in the United Kingdom. The fort was completed in 1874, on the site of previous gun batteries, to defend the approaches to London from the perceived threat of invasion from France and other continental powers. It is one of many such forts and batteries built in response to the recommendations of a Royal Commission of 1860 and are now referred to as Palmerston Forts. Over the years many of these forts have been demolished or radically altered but Coalhouse, although modified to take more modern armament, has kept much of its original architectural form. It is considered to be one of the finest examples of an armoured casemated fort in the United Kingdom.
The fort continued its role as a military establishment through two world wars although with the development of longer range artillery, its function in defending the approach to the capital had become secondary by World War II. In 1962 the fort and surrounding works were sold to Thurrock Council. Since 1983 the fort has been leased to the Coalhouse Fort Project, a voluntary organisation, who have rescued the building from total dereliction and as a result the fort can be opened to the public at certain times during the year. The long-term aim of the Project is to restore the building to something resembling its original condition when it was home to a military garrison.
Arrangements are in hand for the financing of the regeneration programme and as soon as these monies are available, work will commence on selected areas of the site to provide a more interesting historical attraction for the public to visit. Presently, the fort receives thousands of visitors each year when Project members provide guided tours of the more accessible parts of the building. It is a popular place for school parties to visit as part of their historical studies. The fort has also been used on a number of occasions as a location for film and TV. productions.
The fort is located at East Tilbury in the Borough of Thurrock near the town of Grays in south Essex, which is an area rich in historical sites. The local museum is situated in the centre of the town of Grays.
A brief history of the