No matter what you call it, be it West Tilbury Blockhouse or Thermitage Bulwark, Tilbury Fort (name number three) has been a Thames defence since the 1500s. Good old Henry VIII started the ball rolling to defend against the French, shortly followed by Elizabeth I to dispel the Rioja guzzling Spanish and their armada. It was here that Elizabeth gave her rousing speech to her troops:
'I know I have the body but of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, …' (beginning of paragraph two from the speech).
Centuries later Tilbury Fort was used as a film location for Wonder Woman (2017). Rather apt don't you think?
As well as a river defence, during the 1900s Tilbury was also used for gunpowder storage. It was said that at its height, if Tilbury blew it would take out Gravesend on the other side of the Thames. Hobnail boots and a crafty fag resulted in severe punishment.
Tilbury was armed during WWI and WWII but saw little action, with the fort being decommissioned in 1950. Now run by English Heritage, it is steeped in military history with great views over the Thames. Take the audio tour, it brings the buildings to life.
A must if you visit is the foot ferry to Gravesend. You'll find it only a few minutes walk west of Tilbury Fort. It only lasts five minutes but it's fun being on the water. You can park here too.
It's also here where the Windrush Generation from the Caribbean set foot on British soil in the 40s to the 70s. There's a photographic exhibition on the windows of one of the walkways. Interesting and thought provoking, it's very well worth seeing.