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Whitstable and the Maunselll Forts

The Navy Forts 


As explained in our background page, the four Navy forts were the first Maunsell platforms to be placed in the mouth of the Thames. They included Roughs Tower, Sunk Head, Tongue Sands and Knock John and, between February and August of 1942, they were positioned in an a broad arc that mapped the coastline between Felixstowe and Margate. At this point is worth taking another look at our estuary map....



The forts were brought into service in the following order.... 


  • Roughs Tower

  • Sunk Head

  • Tongue Sands

  • Knock John 


They were more compact than their army descendants, occupied positions much further seaward and formed a North-South (rather than East-West) line of protection on the outer perimeters of the estuary. 

Each fort comprised a substantial steel platform mounted on two massive concrete legs.... 



The platform carried two 3.7" anti-aircraft and two Bofors guns. The hollow legs contained a number of storeys and provided living quarters for the navy personnel. Power was supplied by generators.


The Navy Forts Today...


The forts have met with mixed fortunes and only two can really be said to have survived. The table below summarises the situation...


Roughs Tower Survives and now has a heli-pad located on its steel platform
Sunk Head Officially Demolished by explosives  in 1967. 
Tongue Sands Destroyed by a storm in 1996. 
Knock John Survives and is probably the best preserved in terns of original appearance.


As mentioned in on our background page, the Knock John can just be seen from Tankerton Slopes on a clear day. It's orientation means that you can make out the distinctive 'pi-sign' shape



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