Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Shivering Sands

There are some particular pieces of architecture that seem emblematic of the structuralist order that dominated the world until the mid-twentieth century. Now, seen in decay and abandonment, these structures have a poetic power far beyond the appeal they may have had at their height. It is the appeal of power in abeyance. Foremost among these anomalies are the Maunsell Sea Forts.

During the Second World War, floating forts were created in several regions around the UK in order to combat attacks on shipping fleets. Those still remaining were built at Northfleet, Kent in 1942 and are now some miles off the Kent coast. Collectively they are named for their inventor, though each also has their own, rather lyrical, name.

The Forts have an intriguing history. Between 1964 and 1967 they became bases for pirate radio broadcasts, since they existed off the coast in territorial waters. Screaming Lord Sutch establishing Radio Sutch on Shivering Sands, Radio 390 was located on Red Sands, Radio Essex on Knock John, and Tower Radio on Sunk Head.

Bob Leroi has pages of photos and info on the various radio projects. Two may be of particular interest: Red Sands and Sea Tribe.

Even more curious, from 1967 the Sea Fort Roughs has been occupied as the independent Principality of Sealand. Exactly what autonomy this state has is a subject of debate.

If you are in the neighbourhood you can take excursions to the towers. Some who do so take some nice photos.

Stephen Turner recently spent five weeks alone on Shivering Sands as an artist project. His blog is of particular interest.

Finally, there is an active project to save the Maunsell Sea Forts. I wish them well.


No comments:

Post a Comment