Coalhouse Fort battery and artillery defences


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


© Crown Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2021. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1013943.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 21-Apr-2021 at 19:02:43.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Thurrock (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 69069 76653

Reasons for Designation

Coalhouse Fort is a remarkably well preserved late 19th century fort built on the recommendation of the Royal Commission on the Defence of the UK in 1860. It is one of the finest examples of an armoured casemate fort in England and is well documented historically. The jetty and railway line are an integral part of the fort. The Henrician blockhouse is well documented historically and has high archaeological potential due to waterlogging. Such a site adds to the knowledge of the coastal fortifications made by Henry VIII. The Quick-Firer battery, built in 1893, is the sole surviving purpose-built battery of its type in the Thames basin. The rifle range is an unusual survival which adds to the known range of earthwork monuments and is closely associated with the fort. Virtually intact World War II radar installations of the type at East Tilbury are known at only two other places in England, making this an extremely rare survivor of a once widespread system. The group of structures demonstrate the former strategic importance of Coalhouse Point and demonstrate the changing approaches to defence over 400 years. Furthermore the sites formed elements of wider defence systems designed to protect the Thames Estuary and especially London.


The monument comprises the Victorian Coalhouse Fort at East Tilbury, with its associated railway link and jetty and its rifle range, as well as the foundations of an Henrician `blockhouse' coastal battery, a late 19th century `Quick-Firer' battery and a low-level radar tower dating from World War II. The earliest of this remarkable seguence of Thameside defences is the blockhouse, the construction of which was ordered by Henry VIII in 1539/40. It was built of stone and timber robbed from St Margaret's Chantry nearby. Nothing is visible of the structure itself but the landward ditch survives as a creek, and timber palisading running along the shore in the area may belong to this phase. Beside the blockhouse a jetty was built, perhaps initially to support the blockhouse but later to land coal. After several phases of rebuilding, the jetty served Coalhouse Fort, to which it was joined by a full- gauge railway line which survives almost intact but for the tracks themselves. The first phase of the fort, begun in 1799, was replaced in 1847-55 by a more complex structure which was in turn superseded by the present buildings between 1861-74. This latest fort was added to in the First and Second World Wars and only went out of military use in 1949. Near the waterfront a little distance from the fort are a 19th century battery for Quick-Firer guns and searchlights, a rifle range and a World War II low-level radar tower. The structures form a remarkable group of defensive sites at the strategically important Coalhouse Point.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Raymond, W, 'Essex Archaeology and History' in The Med Hospitals At E And W Tilbury And Henry VIII's Forts, , Vol. 19, (1988), 19
Saunders, Mr A D, 'Antiquaries Journal' in Tilbury Fort and the Development of Artillery Fortification..., (1960), 152-74
Saunders, Mr A D, 'Antiquaries Journal' in Tilbury Fort and the Development of Artillery Fortification..., (1960)
Smith, VT C, 'Coalhouse Fort Project' in Coalhouse Fort and the Artillery Defences at East Tilbury, (1985)
Smith, VT C, 'Coalhouse Fort Project' in Coalhouse Fort and the Artillery Defences at East Tilbury, (1985), 152-74
Smith, VT C, 'Coalhouse Fort Project' in Coalhouse Fort and the Artillery Defences at East Tilbury, (1985), 152-74
Wilson, J D, 'Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research' in Later 19th Century Defences of the Thames, , Vol. 12, (1963)
Catton, J, Coalhouse Fort Project, Unpublished excavations
Essex Record Office D/Q 18/P2, 1735, (1735)
Smith, V T C and Catton, J, Recommendations for Scheduling of Several Military Structures, 1984, Unpublished report
Supplied by J Catton, Thurrock D.C., Catton, J,
Title: 1596 Source Date: 1596 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Reported by J Catton, source unknown


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].