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Page last updated at 15:30 GMT, Tuesday, 11 May 2010 16:30 UK
Unique fort on the Isle of Grain is up for sale
By Hannah Ratcliffe
BBC Kent


Owner, Simon Cooper shows us around his unusual building

Off the coast of the Isle of Grain there is a unique building, with an unforgettable address, which is looking for a new owner.

Number 1, The Thames, otherwise known as Grain Tower Battery, was built around 1855.

Its current owner, Simon Cooper, said even though it was dilapidated the construction was bomb proof.

"If you put the windows back in and (add) a lick of paint it'd be a fantastic building."

The 150 year-old estuary gun emplacement is a kilometre off the Isle of Grain shore. It can be reached by boat or by foot, via a pathway over the sand that is only accessible when the tide is out.

Simon Cooper said: "I bought it approximately it five, six years ago and my intentions were to build it into a fantastic house. However, it'd be a bit big for me I think and it's turned out to be a lot more exciting than just a house."

Key military installation

Path to Isle of Grain fort
The tower housed around 60 troops during the Second World War

The building has been extended and re-modelled over the years. Its original purpose was to serve as a key military installation, protecting Chatham and Sheerness dockyards as well as The Thames.

The tower's location is roughly where The Thames and the River Medway meet.

"It used to have an enormous gun on the roof, the largest at the time. It subsequently got re-modelled, enlarged and extended to take even bigger guns," said Simon Cooper.

He added that it came back into military use during the Second World War, housing approximately 60 troops and having three guns mounted on the roof.

The original tower is similar in design to the Martello towers which were first constructed as a defence against Napoleon in the early 19th Century.

On top of the tower is a yellow brick extension and next to it is a more modern looking red brick building on stilts, that at one time was an accommodation block.

Making a future

Simon said he has had a few inquiries into the tower's sale, adding: "They're all interested until they come and look at it and go 'oh my god it is a real island' and they all get a bit frightened because of that."

However, if Simon can find investors, who want to work with him on developing the tower, he would take it off the market.

Isle of Grain fort from the shore
The Grain Tower Battery was built around 1855

His dream is to see a house boat marina and a water and outdoor sports centre. He would like it to bring people into the area and make a future for the place.

"There's not a boat in sight, I can't believe it's not full of little boats.... Just standing here and having a look around it's a superb view that you wouldn't get anywhere else, it's a fantastic place."


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