Author: Joe Mander

By Joe Mander

SS Richard Montgomery Wreck

The SS Richard Montgomery was a US Liberty Ship, constructed in 1943. In 1944 it was part of a convoy delivering explosives with 7,000 tonnes on this ship along. Whilst heading to Sheerness on August 12th 1944, the ships anchor was caught in the sandbanks off the Kent coast, causing the vessel to become grounded….

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By Joe Mander

Red Sands Seaforts

At the outbreak of World War II, the Port of London was the busiest port in the world. As such, a large proportion of supplies to the UK entered by ships navigating the Thames. The German Navy quickly sought to put a stranglehold on this route, and to this end, utilised a new secret weapon…

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By Joe Mander

Wells Firework Factory

Now an overgrown brownfield site, this was once the factory for one of the leading fireworks companies in the whole of the UK. Joseph Wells was the founder of ‘Wells Fireworks’ and established it in Dartford in 1837. He learnt his trade as an explosive lighter man, working along the Thames. The company rapidly became…

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By Joe Mander

Bata Shoe Factory & Estate

The Bata shoe factory and estate was built in East Tilbury the 1930s by Czecheslovakian entrepeneur Thomas Bata. It was modelled on the original factory in Zlín, now in the Czech Republic, and hence survives as an unusual piece of Czech industrial Modernism here in Essex. The factory was converted into the Thames Industrial Park…

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By Joe Mander

Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker

Above the surface it looks like a normal country cottage, but beneath the building lies something completely different – a nuclear bunker. The only clue from above the surface is a pylon, although beneath the surface various rooms were build to accommodate a team to keep the country running in the event of a nuclear…

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By Joe Mander

Maidstone Library Tower

In April 1959 proposals were revealed for a new County Library premises, which had been approved by the council but needed funding of £144,000 plus almost £20,000 for archives. Meeting notes from the time reveal that signification improvements in concrete structures since the Second World War meant that pre-cast concrete buildings were becoming more common,…

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By Joe Mander

Southern Water Emergency Control Centre

Built during the Cold War, in the late 1980’s, this was one of three bomb-proof control centres constructed by Southern Water, although the only one in Kent. Should World War 3 have happened, the water for the South-East could have been controlled from here, although once construction was completed this bunker was never actually kitted…

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By Joe Mander

RAF Detling Battle HQ

RAF Detling was a military airfield just outside of Maidstone, first opened prior to World War One as RNAS Detling (Royal Naval Air Service). Whilst the site doesn’t exist today, traces of it are still dotted around the village of Detling. Battle HQ’s were semi-underground bunkers built close to airfields where a Commander could organise…

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By Joe Mander

Coulsdon Deep Shelter

As World War Two intensified, Surrey Council Council ordered four deep shelters to be built. These big underground complexes could accommodate hundreds of civilians in the event of an air raid. This shelter was built within the grounds of the now demolished Cane Hill Asylum, so presumably would have been available for both local residents…

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By Joe Mander

Norfolk’s Nazi Barns

As war intensified in 1940, the Royal Air Force were looking to rapidly expand their airfields across the country. In Norfolk, officials from the Air Force were tasked with finding sites where it would suitable to quickly and cheaply build new airfields – usually by converting farmland. As the search across the county continued, suspicions…

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