Hotel plan could save World War Two Red Sands Sea Forts off Kent coast

By William Axtell | 03 June 2015

One of the most unusual British relics of World War Two could be saved if an ambitious hotel plan goes ahead

A picture of some metal towers in the sea
The towers of Redsand Forts© Courtesy Aros Architects
A proposal has been made to turn the abandoned Redsand Forts into a luxury hotel accessible only by hovercraft, catamaran or even Helicopter.

Known as Uncle 6 during the Second World War, Redsand Forts comprises seven towers - each one a huge metal box held clear of the water by leg-like stilts.

Six of the towers were armed with anti-aircraft guns and one was a searchlight tower to pick out any glint of Nazi metal in the ink-black night skies of wartime Britain.

The towers were decommissioned in 1956, although a few enjoyed a brief second life as pirate radio stations in the 1960s and the design served as inspiration for the first offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico in the late 1940s

Now a new project, led by businessman David Marriot Cooper, hopes to prevent the historic buildings collapsing into the sea.

A digital concept artwork of a sea-girt hotel
A concept visual of the proposed hotel© Courtesy Aros Architects
“At the end of 2014 I was asked by Project Redsand Trust to try to help do something to make use of the Forts, instead of letting them slowly deteriorate and no doubt eventually fall under the sea," he says. “I came up with the idea of a hotel, leisure or museum complex.”

Cooper approached Aros Architects, who sank considerable time into drafting what is affectionately known as the “rubber ring” concept.

Utilising the wheel-like layout of the towers, the plan will see an engorged central Control Tower become the hotel lounge and restaurant.

Glass bridges will lead off to 40 rooms in the four Gun Towers and four executive suites in the Bofors Tower.

The heritage of the museum will be commemorated as well.

“A museum, dedicated to the ingenuity of civil engineer and designer of the forts, Guy Maunsell, is proposed within the ‘Searchlight Tower’ with its own separate arrival jetty,” say Aros Architects.

Critics of the scheme might argue it is a misuse of heritage buildings, suggesting they should be preserved intact and opened to the public as a museum.

I schematic drawing of a sea-girt hotel
A masterplan for the proposed hotel© Courtesy Aros Architects
However, its supporters say the project has been initiated as a response to the ailing condition of the buildings. It might be argued that finding a practical use for the forts is a far more feasible solution than museum status in a world full of heritage buildings in need of help.

For the Trust, maintaining the external appearance of the outside is paramount.

“It is very important to the charity that the external appearance is kept as faithful as possible to the Guy Maunsell plans,” says Robin Adcroft, its Chair.

“The developers would however be free to decide how the internals are re modelled.

“This would apply to six of the seven towers, where one will remain as a wartime museum with perhaps a section relating to the ‘Pirate Radio’ era of the 1960s.”

A photograph of a sea-girt fort conversion
Spitbank Fort hotel© Amanda Retreats / Wikimedia Commons
The ambitious project has many hurdles to cross and may never reach fruition. Yet there are precedents for such schemes, such as Spitbank Fort near Portsmouth.

If it does get off the ground, it could save an unusual piece of World War Two British heritage from simply falling into the sea.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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