Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Riverside - north bank, east of the Tower. Tilbury Fort

Riverside. The north bank east of the tower. Tilbury Fort

The area dominated by this massive river defence structure

Post to the west Tilbury Riverside
Post to the east Tilbury Power Station
Post to the south Milton

Bill Meroy Creek
Bill Meroy Creek flows into the Thames to the east of Tilbury Fort and from 1851 was the eastern boundary of the City of London coal tax area. It is named from William Millroy an 18th farmer. It is marked on some maps as Ordnance Creek.

Fort Road
Tilbury Fort. Some kind of fortification is mentioned as early as 1402, and there had been warning beacons in this area from the 13th. Under Henry VIII there was a national scheme for erecting defence structured. Thus the first blockhouse was built at Tilbury in 1539, one of five defending the Thames. It was D shaped, with two storeys and had guns mounted on the roof.  There were also guns on the riverbank.  At the time of the Spanish Armada the blockhouse it was strengthened very quickly by the famous engineer Federigo Gianibelli and a star shaped rampart and ditch were built to its rear. It was however not finished before the Armada had been defeated in 1588. Elizabeth assembled her forces and addressed them to the north east of here. After the Dutch fleet raided the Medway in 1667 more work was done on the Tilbury block house and a new fort was built here as part of new national defences.  It was built 1661-65 by a Dutch engineer Bernard de Gomme. Its complex design was to ensure that all ground around it was covered by sights and it was surrounded with angular outworks and trenches –protection by a series of moats and ditches with drawbridges between them. If circumstances warranted the garrison could flood the whole surrounding level, to increase the strength of their defences or it could be drained should it become frozen over. At this time the riverside gateway was built with its designs of trophies. In 1716 two magazines were added. It then served as a transit camp – and was a very unhealthy site. In 1776 two people were killed here at a cricket match between Kent and Essex.  There was also a need for mole catchers. The fort was remodeled on 1868 with new gun emplacements, and the demolition of the Tudor blockhouse. It was part of a complicated system of Thames defences with many other forts and gun sites. In 1915 a Zeppelin was shot down from here.  The fort was however gradually superseded and is now a heritage site said to be the best example of an early modern bastioned fort in Britain.
West Lea Chapel. The site of the fort is said to have been that of a chapel called West Lea Chapel founded by one of the De Tilbury family. It was later dedicated to St Mary Magdalene and it was demolished when the fort was built.
Tilbury Sewage Works, secondary treatment plant. Owned by Anglian Water. It uses the deep shaft method of treatment in which it was a pioneer and, in 1986, was the world’s largest. The works dates from before 1900
Tunnel. In 1796 a tunnel was proposed between Gravesend and Tilbury by Ralph Dodd. The scheme failed but the site is said to have been east f the fort.


Sources
Anglia Water. Web site
Bill Meroy Creek. Wikipedia, Web site
Parliamentary Gazetteer 1843.
Smith. Defending London’s River
Williams. Stronghold Britain

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