THAMESIDE AVIATION MUSEUM
COALHOUSE FORT, EAST TILBURY, ESSEX, ENGLAND.
THE HOME OF AVIATION ARCHAEOLOGY IN ESSEX
The Thameside Aviation Museum has been based at Coalhouse Fort since 1984, but started life many years earlier in 1974 under the name of The Essex Historical Aircraft Society. With our first excavation being carried out in August 11th of that year, on Hawker Hurricane P3518 of 257 (Burma) Squadron.
HOW DID IT START?
In the early 1970's interest had grown in war time Aviation due to the fact that the Battle Of Britain Film had just been released in 1969 and the memories of the people who had been around at that time of the events 29 years earlier had been jogged.
As a schoolboy myself at the time with an interest in aeroplanes went to see the film, well what can I say, even today it is still the best Aviation film of all time. I went home thinking what must of happened to all those aircraft that were shot down, I must ask someone if they can remember any crashing around the area. My father being in the RAF as a fitter during the war was maybe the best person to ask?
My father then told me of a German Bomber which had crashed in woodland very close to our house in Brentwood, he could not remember the exact location but within a couple of hundred sq yds. so with Metal detector in hand and my dog Buster we went in search. It took about three months to find but when I did it was worth it, bits were all over the place.
In 1971 we moved house and for a while I forgot about the bomber, until my Mother spotted a letter in the Brentwood Gazette (mid 1973) asking about the aircraft, I phoned the number and it turned out to be a boy the same age as me and he was looking for the same bomber but could not find it! his name was Robin Hill, We met and I showed him where it was and found a large hole at the site! someone had been digging.
This turned out to be two men from Brentwood , Fred Dunn and Arthur (Chick ) Lowin, we soon made contact with them and they had spoken to two others from Grays, Roger Pickett and Dave Campbell who had excavated a Me 109 that summer at Horndon-on-the-Hill.
We named our new group
THE ESSEX HISTORICAL AIRCRAFT SOCIETY
Now we had all got together the digging could start.
In 1984 we moved our collection into Coalhouse Fort, and named it the
Thameside Aviation Museum
The Thameside Aviation Museum is dedicated to all the airman friend or foe with us still or passed.
COALHOUSE FORT IS A VICTORIAN CASEMATE FORTRESS COMPLETED IN 1874, AS PART OF THE RIVER DEFENCES FOR LONDON. IT WAS MANNED IN THE FIRST AND SECOND WORLD WARS.
The Fort is run by The Coalhouse Fort Project a Registered Charity, and on open days you will be taken around the Fort by your tour guide, this will allow you to see the magazine tunnels below ground and give you a feel for what it was like for a Victorian Gunner.
The tour will also take you onto the roof of the Fort and allow you to see the views across the River Thames and into the County of Kent.
All set in acres of Park Land.
The Forts Connection With Aviation
COALHOUSE FORT HAD CONNECTIONS WITH THE R.A.F IN WW11 WHEN R.A.F.PERSONEL IN A ROOM ON THE ROOF OF THE FORT WITH RADIO AND RADAR EQUIPMENT WOULD HAVE A BRIGHT ORANGE PAINTED HAWKER HURRICANE AIRCRAFT FLY UP THE COAST FOR THE PURPOSE OF RADAR CALIBRATION.
HURRICANE 1, P2992, OF No 527 (CALIBRATION ) SQUADRON, HORNCHURCH, 1943.
Use for gun calibration, Thames Forts,and Type 1 radar at Stoke Holy Cross, Orby and High Street.
Doped with high-reflective paint, with Rotol Prop.