I’m reviving an old feature I used to have on Hoyden, because it gave me an excuse to go looking at an astonishingly eclectic set of images – the WOW! group on Flickr, for which the only qualification to add one’s picture to the group is that somebody has left a comment with the word “Wow” in it. I clicked on an old link in the Similar posts list on a recent post and it took me to one of those old posts, and I thought “hey, I miss this idea”, because I usually ended up finding out something interesting as I looked into the backstory behind various intriguing photos.
Today’s photo is of a WW2 sea fort off the coast at Whitstable, Kent, England – part of the network of Thames Estuary forts. Can you imagine being on the night shift there in winter? With no micro-fleece?
The framing is part of what caught my eye – the photographer (Max Nathan) describes his technique in comments to the photo:
in a fit of technostalgia I bought an old camera off ebay. Now I use ‘film’, then ‘process’ the pictures at a ‘shop’ … then I scan the pictures for that full twentieth century effect.
Retro to the max.
Speaking of retro appeal, Nathan didn’t give this image either a title or a description, but he did give it a multitude of tags, which enabled me to find out that these forts are the object of a restoration activism campaign called Project RedSand (beware flashing HTML for the navigation tabs – whyohwhyohwhy?).
Their aim is preservation as an active operating venture that will be self-funding over the long term:
The layout of the towers allows us to exploit various activities including music recording studios, communications facilities, hydrogen from seawater experiments, a wartime and broadcasting museum and possibly digital broadcast. From time to time, the towers may be used for “assault training” by the Royal Engineers Theatre Troops. The general public will have the opportunity to visit the Fort in small groups. Special events will be arranged including weddings and corporate outings.
Forts like these were also part of the 1960s “offshore radio” movement that was a protest against the BBC’s refusal to approve broadcasting licences for commercial radio stations (a very successful technological bypass of an attempt by a government body to stop the “debasement” of popular culture – Stephen Conroy take note).
Fun fact: a fort rather like this at Shivering Sands was where Screaming Lord Sutch, who continues to stand unsuccessfully every election for the Monster Raving Loony Party, became a well known name beyond his initial election attempt, with the shortlived Radio Sutch.