The Maunsell Sea Forts, by Frank R. Turner
Published privately by the author, 32 pages. A5 size booklet (N6005)
From the introduction: During the Second Worid War there were many secret projects carried out by civilians, often in odd locations and remote places. On completion, the civilian work force, having been sworn to secrecy, was usually dispersed and their function having been fulfilled, the project passed into obscurity. However, not all such projects have been forgotten and some are still in existence to this day, long after their designed life, to remind us of the effort made by those civilians during the dark days of war.
One project in particular concerned the construction of a number of unique and advanced design reinforced concrete floating fortresses on the banks of the River Thames at the Red Lion Wharf site, on the border between Gravesend and Northfleet, now occupied by the defunct Northfleet Power Station, but then in 1941, occupied by Messrs Holloway Brothers Ltd., At the time that the work was undertaken, the construction methods were considered to be very advanced, mainly because they employed new ideas and techniques In total the Sea Fort programme cost the nation approximately £33,000,000 at 1997 prices but very little evidence exists in the area today to commemorate this incredible construction achievement.
The fortresses were designed by Mr Guy A. Maunsell, a notable Civil Engineer of the period, responsible for a number of difficult and pioneering civil engineering projects before the war... Working for the Admiralty, Maunsell initially designed the Naval Sea Fort. Weighing some 4,500 tons each, four of these were sunk in position in the Thames Estuary in 1942 and proved so successful that he was then asked to produce a solution for the Army offshore anti-aircraft defences. For this new requirement he produced an entirely different design comprising of seven separate fortresses positioned in clusters and interconnected with walkways. This configuration represented as closely as possible an Army anti-aircraft battery as utilised on land. Three such clusters were sunk in the Thames Estuary and a similar amount were sunk in the Mersey Estuary.
Condition of the booklet is generally a little poor, but is perfect as a reading copy or reference for further study. The cover has several minor scuffs and creases, but the staple spine is intact and all pages are clean, intact, unblemished and tightly bound. There is a price printed and small price sticker, both on the rear side cover. Also, please note the booklet was published and printed privately, and so lacks the 'finish' of a more professional publication - i.e the page leaves extend a little from the card covers and the photographs are all 'photocopy' quality - but none of this detracts from the fascinating contents!