If only every assignment went like this: Hey Laurence, could you do a picture feature on an abandoned fort out on the Essex coast? Alas, it has only happened once – last week. But what a place to photograph!
It was also a great opportunity – on a sunny largely cloudless day – to see how the new Nikon D810 dealt with high contrast scenes.
Anyhow, the story of Beacon Hill Fort goes a bit like this:
- The first fortification at Beacon Hill Fort was built in the 1530s during Henry VIII’s reign
- The original Beacon Hill battery from 1889-90 included 10in (25cm) and 6in (15cm) breech-loading guns which popped out of their encasements to fire
- By World War One, the original guns had been replaced by mounted 6in guns and a third emplacement was built on the northern side of the fort
- After 1945, the fort was put into “reduced” status by the War Office
- The battery was finally abandoned in 1956, when military jet aircraft and missile systems rendered coastal defences, in the view of the War Office, obsolete
It has now been bought by Paul Valentine and his friend Barry Sharp. They want to turn it into a tourist attraction/adventure centre, primarily aimed at children.
Eventually they hope to set up a heritage trust to run the centre and pass this incredibly piece of coastal history back to the people of Harwich.