With all this talk of the Thames Estuary forts, I think – for obvious reasons – I should officially earmark them as Doggerland territory.
The forts were built during the second world war and designed by Guy Maunsell, who is known for his pioneering use of prestressed concrete and his work on the Hammersmith flyover. There were seven forts in total, of which three army – Nore, Red Sands and Shivering Sands – and four naval forts (further out into the North Sea) – Roughs, Sunk Head, Tongue Sands and Knock John.
During the war, they served to deter German air raids and warn about coming attacks on London. A number of aircraft were shot down from the gun towers.
Four of the forts survive, abandoned since they were decommissioned in the 1950s. Each played host to pirate radio stations in the 1960s. Since this time, Roughs has been occupied by the founder of Radio Essex, Roy Bates, who in 1967 declared the fort an independent state: The Principality of Sealand. Its independence is not recognised and as with all the Maunsell forts, it is still considered UK territory (though this is often disputed).
In 2007, there was talk of The Pirate Bay relocating to Roughs, in a bid to take advantage of its disputed territory claim and get around toughened copyright law in Sweden. This fell through.
It seems visits are possible by boat tours embarking from Herne Bay, which happens to be the coastal town I lived in until the age of ten and to which I’ve seldom returned. I should look into this further.