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The Great Nore Tower

Issue : 8 Updated: 31st December 2020

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Better known as the Nore Fort one of the three WWII Army Forts of the Thames Estuary constructed & sunk on site in 1943

Little material exists on the Nore Fort but the following gathered over many years with the help of our listeners & readers

The Nore Lightship LV86

The Nore Lightship LV86 at St Katherine's Dock (1985)

The first Lightship in the world was stationed at the Nore from 1732

The LV86 served at numerous locations from 1931 - 1974 including the Nore

Owned by St Katherine's Haven as an exhibit from 1974 - 1996 when she was sold into private hands moored on the River Medway at Port Werburgh, Hoo, Rochester

Island Wall, Whitstable Nore Cottage

Island Wall, Whitstable by Reeves Beach a number of cottages around the region take their name from 'The Nore' (2007)

The Great Nore and Little Nore were first famed as a rendezvous point for ships going into battle long before the concept of building and sinking Fort Towers

A major anchorage of the North Sea Fleet in the confluence of the River Thames and Medway, it was used by the ships heading in and out of Chatham, Woolwich & Deptford to blockade Dutch ports and again in the Great (1st World War) and Second World War

The Great Nore, about half a mile wide and 4.5 miles long is located off the main stream of the Thames

The Little Nore, a much smaller anchorage is just off Sheerness

Thames Estuary Fort Location Map

Thames Estuary Army & Navy Forts

Thames Estuary Army Fort Plans

Thames Estuary Army Fort Plans

Army Fort Leg Design Nore Sands Depths

Cruciform & Leg Section
Nore Sands diagram of Depths

Army Fort Construction

Army 3.7" Gun Tower Assembley at Red Lion Wharf, Gravesend

Army Fort Foating

Army 3.7" Gun Tower between Barges ready for lowering to sea bed

Nore Bofors Tower under Tow

Towing out one the Bofors Gun Tower to the Great Nore Sandbank ( 20th May 1943)

Sunk in position they were by a smidgen closer to Essex (Shoebury) than to Kent (Eastchurch)

Nore 1943 Nore 1943

Nore Fort (1943)

Gun Tower 3 & 4

Nore Gun Towers 3 & 4 from the Searchlight Tower

Sailing Barge Henry off the Nore

The SB (Sailing Barge) 'Henry' off the Nore Fort (1943)

SB Henry sails away from Nore

The SB 'Henry' goes about to the West leaving the Nore

Nore 1943

Nore Fort Searchlight & Gun Tower 2 (1943)

Nore Ratings Muster 1943

Nore Fort NCO's Muster Ratings (1943)

Sole Gun Tower

Gun Tower 1 viewed from Gun Tower 4

Nore 1943

Nore Fort Gun Towers 3 & 4 (1943)

Bofors Gun Crew

Nore Fort: Bofors Tower Gun practice during 1943 with Gun Towers 4 & 1 in the background

Nore 1943

Nore Fort Gun Tower 3 & 4 viewed from Searchlight Tower (1943)

3.7" Gun ready

Heavy Anti-Aircraft 3.7" Gun ready to fire

3.7" Gun

Principle Fort Armament the Armstrong 3.7 Anti-Aircraft Gun

Nore 1943

Nore Fort Catwalk (1943)

Supply boat alongside

Supply vessel alongside the Bofors Tower

Note how much lower in the water the Nore Towers are in comparison to Red & Shivering Sands

Passing Ship from Searchlight Tower Base

Passing ship viewed from Supply Vessel between G3 & 4

Nore Lifeboat Drill

Lifeboat drill at Nore Fort as supply ship approaches

Viewed from centre staging of G2 looking through Control Tower

Thames Forts crews & supplies came from HMS Wildfire tendering was with small armed trawlers from R.A.S.C. Water Transport Company Sheerness

Supply vessel coming alongside G1

A supply ship pulls closer to G1

Viewed from centre staging of G2 looking through Control Tower

Nore 1943

Nore Fort with Ratings on Control Tower walkway, note proximity of shoreline (1943)

Supply vessel leaving Nore 2

Supply vessel making her way home, rounds the Forts passing the North Searchlight Tower of Nore Fort (1943)

Great Nore 1943

Nore Gun Towers flag flying, guns ready for action (Undated)

Could be anytime from late 1945 flag flown as warning of Guns in action, Amy training

Wreck of SS Richard Montgomery

The wreck of the SS Richard Montgomery (1985)

The SS 'Montgomory' sunk in 1944 on the edge of the Nore close to the sea lanes thus becoming a hazard to this day

On 31st January 1953 the East Coast of England was hit by Floods which swamped large parts of the Essex and Kent Coasts

The Nore Fort was damaged with the extreme high water washing away some military equipment


The MV 'Baalbek'

On Sunday the 1st March 1953 the 2,160 Ton Norwegian pulp carrier the 'Baalbek' ran into the Bofors and G4 Gun Towers killing four civilian crew

The Bofors Tower collapsed and sank, part of the Forts Catwalks became lodged on the ships foredeck deck, she safely docked with the remnants still hanging from her bow


The MV 'Baalbek' with the Control G4 Tower Catwalk on deck

It was reported at the time the Searchlight Tower which contained the generators had toppled!

The loss of power was due to G4 toppling & severing the power lines from the Searchlight Tower where the generators were housed to the rest of the Fort Complex

Baalbek Collision

The Glasgow Herald report the collision

On 22nd June 1953 the Admiralty advised A-A Command that should the Fort be abandoned, it was anticipated the Port of London Authority would require the removal of the remains of the wrecked Tower and probably the remaining five

A detailed examination of the Fort revealed that the defensive role of the complex couldn't be fulfilled unless restored to its original state

Consideration were given to a temporary arrangement using the remaining layout and rejoining the Searchlight Tower, converting the Control Tower for FC (Fire Control) Radar and Prediction converting G1 for Bofors and TC (Acoustic & Weather) Radar

Other proposals included leaving the Searchlight Tower and re-arranging the remaining four Towers to suit

Chalk was dumped around the Nore Fort and essential repairs made before disaster struck again ...

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