25th June Coalhouse Fort – Project

Coalhouse Fort is an artillery fort built in the 1860s to guard the lower Thames from seaborne attack. It stands at Coalhouse Point in Essex on the north bank of the river, at a location near East Tilbury that was vulnerable to raiders and invaders.


The purpose of the visit to Coalhouse Fort was an initial trip to record a series of images that would add further images to the project Tilbury to Harwich by recording a series of images that explore different aspects of the location. My intention is to combine the best of the images from this location with other locations as I start to shape how I feel about the coastal locations. I have decided to use photography as part of my research apparatus during this phase of developing the project.

Equipment Used

I decided to use my DSLR with 3 different zoom lenses 16-35mm f2.8, 24-70mm f2.8 and 70-200mm f2.8 plus a tripod and remote trigger as my primary research tools. I am trying to balance flexibility with weight as each walk will last between 2 and 4 hours and I need to carry a few basic provisions such as water and snacks.


The methodology adopted for research was to execute some initial research online to create an initial plan of approach for the location but allow intuition to guide me at the location. The plan was to capture 3 groups of images:

  • Landscape / establishing shot images
  • Close-up of specific objects that I find interesting or could tell the reader something about the location and how I feel about the location
  • Capturing people at the location is a secondary objective

Strong Image

On the day I visited the site they were hosting a re-enactment group for World War 2 soldiers. I got one of them to pose with his Bren gun focusing along the barrel of the gun tracing the path of the bullet as it leaves the gun. The Fort was a strategic site in the defence of London and would have been manned by shoulders to protect against an invasion fleet sailing up the Thames.

Weak Image

This image was intended to show the level of decay at the fort however the safety railings across the site are a distraction to the decay of the building.

Any Research References

In preparation for the shoot I did some research about the location:
Visual orientation:

Historical material: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coalhouse_Fort

Assessment of outcome

This was the second coastal defence that I decide to document as part of the project. The trip was more effective in finding interesting images at the site which is run by volunteers. Similar to the trip to Tilbury Fort I felt the less effective images were those images that would be considered as establishing images. At the fort were a group of people who take part in military re-enactments and I felt that those people might have an interesting story that I could explore however at the current time I am not sure how those images might fit into narratives from the other locations visited so far.

This entry was posted in Movement No: 3, Projects, Research Project, Surfaces and Strategies.