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The Fort

External view from the glacis.

Lt. Col. A.E. Le Rossignol R.E. (T)

London Electrical Engineers

The opening of the garage at Coalhouse Fort


Coalhouse Fort in the 1980's



Circa 1942

The Coalhouse Fort Historical Society

Passionate about the fort and its story

What is the Coalhouse Historical Society? We are a group, a "society" if you will, of people who are passionate about the Fort and its history. I know the name could be misleading.

We are still in the formation process, shaping our community to best achieve our collective goal of securing the future of Coalhouse Fort.

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What's new?

Site under construction. Although everything in will go into the newsletters, not everything in the newsletter will be here.

8/11/20 - Remembrance Sunday on YouTube

The ongoing pandemic and lockdown rules are delaying our work but fear not. While we maybe delayed we are not stopped.

23/8/20 - CFHS sent our operating proposal into the council this week for consideration. The proposal was explained as it was discussed at our public meeting. We are waiting to hear back as to questions they wish to raise and the possibility of allowing us to enact the proposal. As we have always said it will only work if we have volunteers, like ourselves. We will not operate with employee’s only volunteers which will ensure all money raised goes back into the fort.

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A brief history of Coalhouse Fort

Palmerston Fort, 1861 -

In the mid 19th century, although we and France were technically allied, there was some concern that the goals of President Napoleon III (the nephew of the original) would include exerting French influence over Britain, possibly including invasion.

Recommendations in the 1860 Royal Commission specified the strength of the French navy as a threat to the security of Great Britain. Parliament eventually agreed on the establishment of a chain of forts along the south and east coast to counter the possibility of invasion.

The “Palmerston Forts” named for the Prime Minister at the time, also known as Palmerston’s follies, were the line of protection meant to protect us from the French. Like all such deterrents, detractors will say they were unnecessary, but in truth you only know whether a deterrent works when it fails and the forts never did that.

Along the Thames, three forts were constructed; Shornemead, Cliffe, and Coalhouse. Together they could cover a large stretch of the Thames with their guns. This coverage and overlapping fields of fire meant that any ingress toward London via the river would end in disaster.

Since construction, Coalhouse Fort has been used and repurposed to defend London in major conflicts including WWI and pivotal work in WWII.

A history of Coalhouse Fort - On guard for 555 years. Replace with Amazon affiliate link?


So it's not Tilbury Fort? No. Although we are within walking distance of Tilbury Fort we are totally distinct. There is a link below to the English Heritage Site for Tilbury Fort

Where does the name come from? Coalhouse Fort is located at Coalhouse Point at East Tilbury. OK, I need to look into this more.

Where are the secret tunnels? There aren't any. I'm sorry to say there is no evidence of tunnels into or out of the fort.

Associated places

Friends & supporters

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Palmerston Forts Society

Tilbury Fort


Media & External links


To volunteer, or ask a question

East Tilbury, Essex
CHFS Community
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