Beacon Hill Fort – Harwich

Beacon Hill Fort is one of three defences on the estruary of the River Orwell. One is at Felixstowe, and the other at Shotley.

Harwich has had a long naval history, with something at Beacon Hill since at least Henry VIII’s time. Much of the fort was built in the 1890’s, and used a novel idea of camoflaging it with the landscape. It was extended during WWII. It finally closed in 1956, but military presence continued until the 1970’s. Since then it has deteriorated and suffered at the hands of local vandals.

That’s a very very brief history of the place – SubBrit has an excellent piece about it.

Observation Towers

There are two observation towers here. As you can see from the panorama, they have a wonderful view of the estruary and sea.

Panorama beacon

One the right of the picture you can see the other observation tower, and one of the gun emplacements to the left.

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The other is tower slightly smaller and is built onto one of the gun emplacements (“Cornwallis Battery”)

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Batterys

There are four huge emplacements for guns here. One has a curious corrugated-concrete effect going on.

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Other buildings

A few other buildings were explored, including a small shell store. This even had a winch to the battery above.

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Underground

There is a small underground area at Beacon Hill Fort – used for munitions storage.

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22 Responses to Beacon Hill Fort – Harwich

  1. Andy Ingate says:

    I’ve heard rumours that this is about to be restored. Don’t know how true they are. Visited my self earlier this year. What a mess. Kids were there lighting fires everywhere when I was there.

  2. fern reeves says:

    i went with my young kids today. i went there as a teenager and wanted the kids to see it b4 it was pulled down or sold off! i was also sadly dissapointed when i saw the delapodation of the entire site! i have a passion for photography and with the vandalism there was no decent shot to take! i’m going back on wednesday, and i will get a decent shot!!!! this time without the kids! loved ur site. urs truely, fern x

  3. Diana says:

    I used to play here in the 70`s, there was no graffiti then, or not as much as that anyway. We used to call it the War Department or WD and it was a well known place for all the local truants from school, myself included. My brother ran away from home once and managed to hide out for a week his pals bringing him food.

  4. connor says:

    yea but listen this place is haunted how do i know i have a vid cam and i filmed some of this place in the tunnels and you can see a figure of a soliders head aka (ghost) i will have this vid on you tube soon
    ( youtube name warpunisher) keep looking

  5. rhys says:

    i live in hawich and when i was younger we used to go down there all the time. in one of the tunnels some one was murderd and then set on fire. we used to call it th bloody mairy tunnel . its a grea place to explore .

  6. vanessa thompson says:

    love this place !

  7. vanessa thompson says:

    love this place !

  8. tom norris says:

    my family came from harwich,I have spent many summers in dovercourt and harwich,my grand daughter and grand children now live there, i have on every occasion visited beacon hill it is part of our history and should be protected from vandals who unlike myself and my generation lived through and survived ww2 tom norris

  9. Kevin Mudd says:

    We uased to play here as kids in the 1960’s. It was a great place to collect blackberries as well. Around fireworks time we used to have play battles using bangers and the small rockets. I guess those days are gone forever what with lawsuits and what have you. This is the first time I”ve seen the WD since leaving England for Australia in 1970. It so sad that the kids nowadays want to tag everything with paint.

  10. tractorboy 54 says:

    the w.d. as i used to know it looks very sad now surprised that its still there.very suprised the conservationists haven’t got hold of it.the place used to be a kids dream better than any pleasurewood hills imagination could go riot in this place.i wonder how manny young lovers used this place after us young uns had long gone home.in my time i remember that the tall turrets were painted with windows and doors to resemble houses.it would be interesting to hear from someone who might be alive who was actually stationed here during the war.kevin mudd thats a name from the past i emigrated to newmarket

    • Paul says:

      Have really enjoyed looking at the pictures of the fort. In its day this was linked closely with landguard fort and the offshore forts such as Roughs tower and Fort Knock John as anti aircraft and shipping defence. Although the vandalism is sad, Harwich has more henesty than the Felixtowe forts, which now largely restored have lost the adventure playground element to their existence. Sadly the Felixtowe kids wont get their first snog or haunted night in their forts as they are clean, museum like and locked up.

  11. Taylor says:

    I have always wanted to go here but they’re now closed off 😦 bloody council!

  12. Steve says:

    I used to pay in the dubs as we use to call it it was good to explore most of the
    Buildings where boarded up but you always find away in especially the tall tower
    With views of felixstowe,, it’s been like that for years now would be a shame to tear
    It down, would be good if that had some kind of museum or did it up but I suppose like most things in harwich it gets talked about but never happens… Harwich has so much history but we don’t show it …….. A big museum would be ideal there is a lot of history and facts that people don’t even know About.. Frustrating really….

  13. Amy says:

    If they actually did something with this place it would be alot better for the community, my dad took me there a few years ago and told me how much fun he used to have there, but now its over grown but i still know many people that go there, it should be opened up for the history, or for the kids to go to as they go there anyway. its already had graffitti everywhere so its never going to be restored as everyone just fafs about.

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  15. steve says:

    They wernt murdered they lit a fire got drunk and died from the smoke coz they were in a tunnel

  16. ashley thompson says:

    Hi I am grateful for this oppurtunity to be able to speak about Beacon Hill Fort Harwich. I am a part owner of this fort, it has been in my family for decades. So I would like to clear some of the myths that the fort is owned by the council – the council have no ownership rights, nor do they have any connection to the owners. There are four of us family members who own equal share each.

    • Ryan says:

      Will you be willing to clean the place up as it is war ground because it is near the point of no return as the buildings are damaged and its very hazardous.

    • Tony says:

      Hi,

      im looking to shoot a short horror film literally only a few minutes long to build my potfolio. I was wondering if its possible to attain permission to gain access to any areas of the site? I dont have alot of money but would be willing to make a donation to a local charity on your behalf. And i fully appreciate your position if you’d rather not have anyone on the site

      Many thanks in advance

    • essexmole says:

      hi ashley can you contact me by email please ive researched and visited the site many times and enjoy the place could i speak to you more private
      my email is m3zzncolchester@gmail.com

  17. Mr.morris says:

    Hello Ashley.
    I would be very interested in having a chat with you ref: long term hire of beacon hill fort. Please contact me on the mail address.
    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Many thanks R

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