13 Sep 2015

World War II observation tower - Pictures of Landguard Fort (15 Pics)

Harwich Harbour, is at the mouth of the river Orwell. It has always been the best safe haven for large ships between the rivers Thames and Humber. The rivers Orwell, Stour, and Deben stretch several miles inland and were ideal highways for trade and raiders. There have been quite a few forts built on the Landguard Peninsula through the years. This has to makes you wonder, how many people have died on this piece of land?
The use of the land as a fort dates all the way back to 1543. Henry VIII had two blockhouses built which rapidly deteriorated. So in 1552, the guns were returned to the Tower of London.
Then in 1628, a new fort was built. It was square with a bastion on each corner. In 1666, under Charles II, repairs were completed and a brick wall constructed around the Fort.
The dark corners are chilling. 
There was an attack on the fort in 1667, during the second Dutch War. The Duke of York and Albany's Maritime Regiment of Foot, commanded by Captain Nathaniel Darell, repulsed the Dutch assault. One of the ghost stories is about a solitary musketeer who was seen several times by soldiers during the Second World War, marching along a rampart. He is said to have been the only defender who lost his life during a Dutch invasion attempt (during which nine or ten Dutchmen were killed) in the distant past. Though the soldier has not been observed as of late, I was told that dogs are still afraid of that particular area.
In 1717, a new brick Fort was constructed, but gave way to a new structure in 1744, when a new red brick Fort was built in the form of a pentagon, with a bastion at each corner. These walls remain there today.
In 1871, the Fort was remodeled using yellow London bricks. All of the internal accommodation buildings and the river facing battery, dating from 1780, were demolished.
A seven gun case-mate battery was constructed facing the river to house four 12.5 inch and three 10 inch Rifled Muzzle Loaded (RML) guns. Accommodation was in a semicircular block connected to the case-mates to form an internal defensive position.
In 1878, a submarine mining establishment was constructed by excavating a test room within the thick walls of the Fort, building an observation room and adding a main building on the east side of the Fort, which was known as the Ravelin Block. Another interesting story to go with this picture is that the bathroom is said to be haunted by another soldier, who died around the time of the First World War. Two mediums visited the site at different times, one claiming the soldier cracked his head open on the bath during a practical joke that went wrong, while the other maintained the soldier was murdered because he was caught stealing from friends. Both stories featured several other people involved in the death, all of whom conspired to keep the truth hidden after the event. However, there is no official documentation to support the death; cover up or fiction? Either way, the area has a particular feel to it, whether this is due to a spiritual presence or environmental factors is subject to debate. This story is also connected to another one of the Landguard’s phantom tales. One of the soldiers who was involved in the bathroom death could not live with his actions. He sneaked into the magazine room, tied a noose around his neck and hanged himself. By the time the guard found him it was too late, and his phantom is still reported to remain in the area.
Stores and barracks were later demolished and are now underneath Landguard Terminal (part of the Port of Felixstowe).
In 1901, because the existing armament of the Fort became obsolete, new batteries were built in front of the Fort facing the sea and river. These were named Left, Right, and Darell's Batteries.
After the main guns were removed, and for most of the 20th century, the Fort was used as barrack accommodations. In 1951, two of the old gun case-mates were converted into a control room for ‘cold war’ use.
In 1956, the Coastal Artillery was disbanded and Landguard Fort no longer had a national military purpose. After 10 years of military neglect, the Fort was sealed up and left to quietly disintegrate until the 1980s when local interest was aroused.
In 1997 and 1998, the Fort was structurally consolidated by English Heritage, into whose care it had been placed, and is maintained and opened to the public on their behalf by the Landguard Fort Trust.
It would be amazing to be able to see all the different structures over time. What remains now is so decayed. 
It kind of reminds me of American Horror Story.
Some of the equipment looks like it could still be used to this day, if it weren't so outdated.


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