The Humber Forts

Once a bulwark against the threat of invasion from the continent, today a pair of lonely sentinels - abandoned but for the prospect of re-use as a drug rehabilitation facility.

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The Humber Forts

The Humber FortsImage courtesy: North East Lincolnshire Council

Bull Sand fort in full working order shortly after becoming operational in 1919.

The Humber Forts are two huge concrete fortifications, built during the First Word War to protect the Humber - and the critical port of Hull - from the German fleet. The difficulties of building forts out on the estuary flats, with their muddy silts and changing tides, made the engineering of such difficulty that they weren't completed until 1919, by which time the war had ended.

However, World War II saw the forts come back into  use. They were of sufficient importance to be attacked from the air by the Luftwaffe and boasted 6-inch guns to deploy against any enemy shipping that attempted to slip into the estuary, as well as submarine nets to prevent any underwater attacks.

Should you visit Cleethorpes, Haile Sand Fort is pretty close at low tide and can be observed from relatively close quarters from the beach.

Haile Sand Fort

Comprised of a hexagonal foundation, the fort is topped with circular walls built that boast a diameter of some 66ft. The walls are built of concrete and protected by 0.5 inch steel facing.

The foundation effectively doubled up as a coal bunk, while the ground floor included a boiler room, stores, guard room, 3 barrack rooms, the kitchen and various other utility rooms. Another floor held the officers' mess and quarters, further barracks and both the magazine and the medical room.

The top floor carried the gun emplacements. Originally, the fort was armed with 2 4 inch Mk V guns, but during WWII these were replaced by first 2 12 pounder guns then 2 6 pounder guns. The army left in the fifties, but the fort remains in use into the sixties and remains in good condition today - with most of its WWII features still intact.

Bull Sand Fort

Bull Sand Fort is the larger of the Humber Forts. It is based on an octagonal foundation with, like its sister fort, a cylindrical steel and concrete structure making up the bulk of its construction.

Originally, the fort was armed with 6 inch guns and searchlights. In WWII, the fort's role was designated as a defense against torpedo boats and so it was fitted with new enhanced searchlight mountings and heavier, quick-firing 6 inch guns. After the war, the fort was garrisoned until 1956 and sold to the Humber Conservancy Board in 1964. For almost 15 years, it has been subject to attempts to convert it to a rehabilitation centre for drug addicts but a recent lack of news suggests that, as yet, funding has not yet materialised for this ambitious (and slightly odd?) scheme.

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Author: Ian Freud   |  Last updated: 19th February 2015 | © Weird Island 2010-2020
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