Situated alongside the River Thames in East Tilbury, Essex is one of the best examples of an armoured casemated fort you can find in the UK. Set in beautiful parkland and offering some amazing views across the river, this Victorian coastal defence, also known as a Palmerston Fort, was completed in 1874 and makes for a great day out for all the family.
Still close to its original form, restoration and maintenance is being undertaken by The Coalhouse Fort Project
and since 1983 this volunteer group and registered charity are responsible for opening this wonder to the public every year. Their main objectives are 'to preserve, restore and maintain Coalhouse Fort
for the benefit of the public and to advance the education of the public in the general history of coastal defence fortifications with special reference to the inception and design of Coalhouse Fort and its subsequent development'.
With guided tours, open days and regular events being held throughout the year, you will find plenty to keep you occupied during your visit.
Once inside you will find two Museums, The Military Museum displaying pictures, artefacts and general military equipment and a display dedicated to the Navy, and The Thameside Aviation Museum which has been based at the Fort since 1984.
After visiting the museums, why not have a cup of tea or coffee and a snack in the Tea Rooms and then browse through some of the souvenirs available from the Shop which is also located there.
On the many open days, you will have the chance to view a number of restored Military Vehicles which you will find displayed within the grounds.
Perhaps not for the children, but certainly for the more adventurous adult, a Paranormal Investigations night might be of interest to you. Held on selected Saturday nights throughout the year and booked in advance, these nights include a small buffet, tea, coffee and cold drinks and last from about 8pm 'til 4am the next morning.
With Free Parking, Tourist Information kiosk and WC facilities available, you can take your time exploring the perimeter of the Fort and the grounds. A children's play area will keep the little ones amused before having a stroll along the River Thames and taking in the views of the nature conservation areas. Weather permitting; the parkland makes for an ideal place to have a picnic and to lay back and watch the world go by.
Obviously with an historic building such as this, disabled access to certain areas is restricted, but the grounds surrounding the Fort do have some paths suitable for wheelchairs and scooters.
Located not too far from London and the M25 and with bus and train services into East Tilbury, you will find Coalhouse Fort to be worth the visit.EssexTouristGuide.com