Grain tower battery
What can I say about this location… One I have wanted to get to for a fair while… So my wife had theatre tickets and myself and 2 mates decided to drive down to come and have a look as the tides looked in our favour time wise. TBH I had not been out for a wonder with the camera like this for yonks, its been all UNI work and paid shoots, and it was great to go have a climb around on some cool stuff.
The 30c heat was lovely and made even better by the lovely sea breeze once we had walked out to the tower. Was great that the ladder was there to get up as well. When we got there, there was one other couple chilling on the roof having lunch and the rest of the 2 hours we spent there we think there was about 5 other group’s of folk who came over as well. We found that 2 hours before low tide and 2 hours after you had nice easy access to the site
Photographically it is a bit of a eye sore, but to stand there in it, well what can I say, it s a cool place full of history and amazing it still stands after all these years.
All in it is a great place to go for a wander and to fly the drone around too 🙂
The shots that look like they were shot from the ground were taken with the Fujifilm X-T2, the ones that look rather high were taken with theDJI Mavic Air
Gain tower battery Kent History
At the time of the tower’s construction, there were widespread fears that the imperial rivalry between Britain and France could result in a French invasion or naval incursion along the River Thames. The Thames was seen as particularly vulnerable; as well as being one of the UK’s most important trade routes, it possessed several naval installations of great importance, including the victualling yards at Deptford, the armaments works of Woolwich Arsenal, the shipbuilding yards at North Woolwich, and the magazines at Purfleet.
The Medway also had major installations, notably the Chatham Dockyard, which had been targeted to devastating effect by the Dutch during the Second Anglo-Dutch War in 1667. It was thus deemed essential to prevent an enemy entering the Medway and reaching the dockyard.
Grain Tower stands about 500 metres (1,600 ft) offshore at the eastern tip of the Isle of Grain, where the mouth of the Medway meets the Thames. It was constructed on the tidal sandbank of Grain Spit and is reached by a causeway running in an east-west direction from the shoreline. Its location enabled the tower’s arc of fire to overlap with that of the guns at Garrison Point on the Isle of Sheppey, on the other side of the Medway.
Construction began in 1848 but difficulties were soon encountered in laying the foundations and construction paused until 1853. It took nearly two years for the Lincolnshire builders Kirk and Parry to construct the rest of the tower; as the York Herald newspaper noted, “from the exposed situation of the tower, which is subject to the sea and weather, very great difficulties were experienced during the winter months in proceeding with the work.” It was completed in late 1855 and was handed over to the Ordnance authorities on 17 November that year. By this point it had gone more than 50 percent over budget, costing £16,798 (equivalent to £1,470,640 today).
The tower stands three storeys high, faced in granite ashlar, and is roughly oval in shape. Its base is 21.8 by 19.3 metres (72 by 63 ft), its original height was 12.9 metres (42 ft), and it has walls 3.6 metres (12 ft) thick.
The gun crews lived in barrack accommodation within the tower, which also housed stores and ammunition. Its overall design is similar to that of a Martello tower, dozens of which were built around the coasts of Britain and Ireland during the Napoleonic Wars at the start of the 19th century; it can be considered the last Martello tower to be built in Britain.
Grain tower battery Operational history
The Grain tower battery was initially armed with three 68-pdr. smoothbore guns which were mounted on traversing platforms on the roof and fired en barbette. Although Martello-style towers were well able to resist the smoothbore guns of the early 19th century, the development of a new generation of much more powerful rifled muzzle loader (RML) guns made Grain Tower obsolete as soon as it had been completed.
The tower’s smoothbore guns were soon replaced with RMLs: one 56-pdr. and two 32-pdrs. These were withdrawn as late as 1910, when the tower was repurposed as a communications tower. In 1915, two 4.7-inch quick-firing (QF) guns were moved from Grain Wing Battery and installed on Grain Tower to counter the new threat of fast torpedo boats. This required the construction of a raised concrete and stone structure on the tower’s roof within which the new guns were emplaced, and a shelter was created to provide room for detachments, stores and fire control. The body of the tower was also altered to upgrade the ammunition storage.
The guns remained in place through the First World War, when the Grain tower battery found an additional purpose as one end of a boom defence stretching across the Medway to Sheerness. The massive iron chain from the boom is still present, wrapped around the base of the tower. A fixed timber section of the boom stood between the tower and the shoreline.
The tower was disarmed in 1929.
During the Second World War much bigger changes were made when the tower became the location, in 1939, for a twin 6-pdr. QF gun. A large roofed concrete emplacement was constructed on the roof to house the gun with a tall directing tower at its rear. A Defence Electric Light Emplacement was also added to the fabric of Grain tower battery. At the tower’s rear, a brick and concrete barrack block standing on stilts was constructed to house the gun detachment. It is a freestanding structure but is connected to the tower via catwalks. In 1944 the tower was reduced to care and maintenance status before being decommissioned in 1956.
Grain tower battery Current status
In 2005 a private owner purchased it from the Crown Estate and put it up for sale again from 2010, with a guide price of £500,000. The owner, a south-east London builder named Simon Cowper, said that “it just didn’t work out well as a home – plus the cost of doing it [up].” It was reportedly sold in 2014 for £400,000, though the new owner wished to remain “under the radar” until they had secured planning permission for renovations.