I’ve written about some seriously creepy places over the years but this must be one of the spookiest. Built during the Second World War, and about 9 miles from the nearest land, these anti-aircraft fortifications were interconnected by walkways and probably pretty scary places to be.
They were designed to protect the southeast coast of England, and specifically London, from German attack by sea or by air.
They were built on land and transferred to their sea location to be erected. Today, abandoned, they look like menacing alien beasts of war.
After the war, the equipment, the guns and so forth, was removed and the places simply abandoned and left to rot. The elements and the ocean played their parts in trying their best to destroy the forts and one was demolished completely in 1963 when a ship collided with it sending the structure crashing into the sea.
Now the story gets even weirder.
You’re probably not old enough to remember but in the 1960s, there was an eccentric – to say the least – musician and serial parliamentary candidate who went under the pseudonym Screaming Lord Sutch. He had no connection to nobility or the peerage of course, but he was referred to as Lord Sutch throughout his life.
Lord Sutch decided that the forts would make an excellent base for a pirate radio station.
Pirate radio stations in those days transmitted illegally as they were unlicensed. They were located on platforms, ships and similar offshore locations. All teenagers in the sixties listened to the pirate stations rather than the government-owned, staid BBC.
Sutch soon tired of the enterprise and sold or gave (accounts vary) it to his manager, Reginald Calvert. Now there began the battle of the pirate radio stations. There were several, one being Radio Atlanta, owned and operated by Major Oliver Smedley.
The rivals planned to amalgamate their pirate stations, then they didn’t, then they did … the matter was settled once and for al;l, when there was what was described as a ‘violent row’ between the two men, and Smedley shot Calvert. Dead.
Smedley was acquitted of the murder of Calvert as he claimed, as did witnesses, that it was self-defense. (I’m not sure what a gun was doing hanging around in a private home in England in the 1960s but still…)
That was essentially the end of the fort’s useful life. Calvert’s widow attempted to run the pirate radio station for a short while but that fell through. Weather equipment was installed at one time but the towers crumbled and rusted as the years went by.
There’s no access to the forts today of course, although they can be seen from land on a clear day.
There are some seriously creepy photographs on the Insider website linked to below.
The Maunsell Army and Navy forts were built and placed in the Thames Estuary in 1942 to help protect London from airstrikes and sea raids during World War II. After the war, the forts became the headquarters for pirate radio stations. Today, the forts are abandoned and dilapidated, but you can visit them by boat.
Where is Shivering Sands Army Fort?
Shivering Sands Army Fort
JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.