Last Saturday was a lovely day for a boat trip. On board the X-Pilot, I enjoyed a picnic on the deck, views of the Thames Estuary, and the clear, fresh air. However, this was a boat trip with a purpose: we were visiting the Red Sands Forts. The X-Pilot is able to get closer to the forts themselves than other ships, and is now working in partnership with Operation Redsands Fort, which proposes to secure their future by conversion into a hotel, and Project Redsand.
These Maunsell forts have an eerie presence, like abandoned invaders from a sci-fi movie. Their distinctive shapes, with long, concrete legs and rusting iron bodies, can be seen from shore -but are even more compelling when seen up close. Protectors of London in World War II, home to pirate radio in the 1960s, today they are largely abandoned (although there are occasional residents). What will be their future?