In 2004, THURROCK viewers, along with the rest of the nation, had the chance to help their local heritage receive more than £1 million worth of restoration funding.

Restoration, a ten-part BBC2 series hosted by comedian and conservationist Griff Rhys Jones, featured 30 ancient monuments on the English Heritage ‘at risk’ register.

Coalhouse Fort in East Tilbury, Thurrock was in the running to win the prize and viewers were asked to vote for the fort to help ensure its survival and increase public access as a heritage attraction.

Thurrock Council worked with the Coalhouse Fort Project to win the money in a bid to help restore the dilapidated barrack block of the fort. This would have meant it could have been developed to allow visitors to discover the functions of the building, ranging from its cell block and guard room through to the kitchens and wash house used by the Garrison from Victorian times to World War II.

Cllr John Kent, cabinet member for culture and heritage, said: "Should the fort be successful in winning the money, it is hoped a ticket office and souvenir shop will be developed along with toilets, a cafeteria and a range of activity rooms and office space to provide an income to support the stability of the project and increase enjoyment for visitors.

"The site is unique, both from its architectural and social history and also from its setting in the River Thames marsh, overlooking the estuary.

"Our community and visitors from further afield will be able to enjoy the already existing park and river frontage and the unique heritage of Coalhouse Fort."

Coalhouse Fort was completed in 1874 and is one of the best surviving examples of a Victorian armoured casement fort, meaning that guns were installed in defensive covered positions to stop attacking warships reaching London.

Jonathan Catton, Thurrock Council’s heritage and museum officer, said: "One historic monument has been lost every day since the end of World War II. This programme will help us to reverse this trend and we are calling on our residents to join in and support the campaign by voting.

Coalhouse Fort is a unique survival of a Victorian armoured Casemate Fort in a unique landscape and river setting on the River Thames, its played its part in our national defence and we now need to defend it so it survives for future generations to understand and interpret its place in history"

The Fort did not win money from the TV programme, but funding was obtained from other bodies to enable restoration work to go ahead.

At the time, the fort was open on the last Sunday of each month plus bank holidays and for other special events. It has now closed and there is no date for a reopening. For further information please contact Thurrock Council’s museum & heritage officer on 01375 382555.

At that time, entrance costs were £2.50 for adults, £2 for concessions and free for children.

Further information on the Restoration programme can be found at