Looking for somewhere to visit in Essex?
Why not have a day out at the English Heritage site Tilbury Fort!
The great artillery Fort was built in the late 17th Century to prevent hostile ships from sailing up the Thames and to prevent land attack. The fort is one of England’s finest surviving forts from the 17th century complete with its circuit of moats and bastioned outworks still surviving. During the First World War, the fort became an important supply base for field army equipment, accommodating and supplying troops destined for the trenches.
Although not all of the fort’s buildings survived there are still the Gunpowder magazines, Guard house, North east and west bastion and the officers barracks to look around which all group around the parade ground where the troops would have drilled, trained, inspected, exercised and sometimes were punished. On the parade ground now you will see some of the army vehicles used and some anti aircraft artillery guns spotted around the paved parade. My boys loved looking at these historical artifacts and pretended that they were fighting each other across the parade.
The foundations of the soldier barracks are clearly seen in the above picture.
My boys were really excited to be able to touch and explore the vehicles and artillery guns and even had the chance to play with a gun on the east curtain where they could rotate and adjust the height of the gun to aim it at the passing boats on the River Thames, they even had a full view of the banks across the shore at Gravesend.
A lot of the guns have moving parts and children are encouraged to play and explore them, this was a favourite of the boys and they spent quite a while (even though it was wet and windy) playing with them. Surrounded by the parade are lots of grassy banks that are brilliant for children to run up and down on.
The walls surrounding the fort have openings in them which are called embrasures, these are where the artillery could fire through.
Tilbury Fort has so many nooks and crannys to explore that it kept my boys busy for hours even in the rain! They really enjoyed exploring the magazines in the North East Bastion which were built underground and are protected by grassy mounds, within these passages were storerooms that stored shells and cartridges.
There is an array of gunpowder barrels on display in the magazine houses which the boys likes to climb all over, so glad that they are just for show as I’m sure they would have set them off lol.
The officers quarters still stands around the parade ground although they have been rebuilt and altered several times, inside these houses are wartime memorabilia of military items. We looked at an old kitchen stove,disposal kit, gun display, an array of gas masks, an officers bedroom (which Jak added that it was quite big) and there were a collection of manikin’s dressed in the old army uniform.
We had a lovely day at the Fort even though we got soaked through from the torrential rain, it is definitely a place that we will be returning to in the summer, scattered around the parade ground are benches that are ideal for picnics, there is a gift shop that also sells hot and cold drinks.
If you are a big Sharpe fan you would love it here as this is the set where the TV historical drama was filmed during the Napoleonic Wars, the Fort is located half a mile away from Tilbury Town.
Costs: £4.60/ Adult, £2.80 /Child or £12.00 for a family of 4.
Please check the website for more information on opening times