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The Great Nore Tower

Issue : 6 Updated: 25th July 2017

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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

1. 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

1 & 2. Island Wall, Whitstable by Reeves Beach a number of cottages around the region take their name from 'The Nore'

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

3. Thames Estuary Army & Navy Forts

Thames Estuary Army Fort Plans

4. Thames Estuary Army Fort Plans

Army Fort Leg Design Nore Sands Depths

5. Cruciform & Leg Section 6. Nore Sands diagram of Depths

Nore Bofors Tower under Tow

7. Towing out one the Bofors Gun Tower to the Great Nore Sandbank on 20th May 1943

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

Gun Tower 3 & 4

8. Nore Gun Towers 3 & 4 from the Searchlight Tower

Sailing Barge Henry off the Nore

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

SB Henry sails away from Nore

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

Sole Gun Tower

11. Gun Tower 1 viewed from Gun Tower 4

Bofors Gun Crew

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

3.7" Gun ready

13. Heavy Anti-Aircraft 3.7" Gun ready to fire

3.7" Gun

14. Principle Fort Armament the Armstrong 3.7 Anti-Aircraft Gun

Supply boat alongside

15. 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

16. Passing ship viewed from the Searchlight Tower base

Nore Lifeboat Drill

17. Lifeboat drill at Nore Fort as supply ship approaches

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

18. Supply ship pulls closer to G1

Supply vessel leaving Nore 2

19. Supply vessel making her way home rounds the Forts passes the North Searchlight Tower of Nore Fort in 1943

Wreck of SS Richard Montgomery

20. 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


21. 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

22. 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

23. 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 ...


24. The MV 'Mairoula'

... the 'Mairoula' collided with the Fort in 1954 damaging one of the reinforced concrete legs of the Searchlight Tower

Nore Searchlight Tower

25. Pictured in 1954 showing part of the submerged G4 Gun Tower toppled in the 1953 collision

Nore Searchlight Tower in 1954

26. Picture shows the Searchlight Tower 1954 leg damage the Tower still standing

* The Army Forts were its said to have been designed to be able to remain standing on just three leg

Nore Searchlight Tower leg damage

27. The damaged Searchlight Tower Leg

Nore Searchlight Tower leg damage close up

28. Clearly weakened by the impact

Nore Searchlight Tower leg damage from west

29. Damage viewed from West

Reinforced cage

30. A reinforced steel cage fabricated on-site around damaged area

Swim ended work boats

31. Swim ended work boats appear to be a clinker built fisherman & lifeboat

The temporary height adjustable staging remained in place throughout repair

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