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Shorehams Mystery Towers.

Shoreham’s “ Mystery Towers “.

The construction of two ( of six ) mysterious twin towers at the old naval port of Shoreham, which over a long period of time had been known for its sturdy building of square-rigged ships, provided the final symbols of endurance and determination in the attrition of total war in Sussex.

If the war had not come to its end in 1918 boom nets would have been hung between these sunken concrete towers, full of locally excavated shingle, to close the gap in the English Channel to the ever presence of U-boats, and thus blocking the remaining gap in the naval blockade of Germany.

Airships out of Polegate and Slindon were at this time patrolling the channel on the lookout for U-boats, but their success rate was not that high?, it the weather was bad then they could not fly, and because of there slow speed were susceptible to being shot down, by U-boat gunners, and aircraft.

A other method was required, thus the towers, but the building of them would take time, they each weighed some 10.000 tons.( imperial) the workforce employed to build amounted to 3.000 men .

Designed by civilian Mr. G. Menzies, and also involving a young Guy Maunsell who would later design the AA forts of WWII, the towers were to be linked together with steel nets and armed with two 4-inch guns with the idea of closing the English Channel to enemy ships.

The building of the towers was supervised by the Royal Marine engineers. the writer S.P.Mais lived at the time in Southwick, he recorded the ruined huts of the engineers on Southwick Green in early 1920s , its interesting that the remains were still there at this time.

One tower that had been completed was towed out of Shoreham harbour for use in the Portsmouth approaches in May of 1920, becoming the famous Nab Tower of Benbridge. Its still there to this day.

The journey proving that the tower was tow -able, some at the time could not understand how it could float, being built of concrete. In 1920 the completed tower was towed by two paddle wheel tugs to the Nab Rock, a rock in the deep-water approach to the eastern Solent and previously marked by a lightship. Buoyancy was provided by the honeycomb construction of the concrete base, creating 18 water-tight compartments. When these were flooded, the structure sank and settled to rest at an angle of 3 degrees from vertical towards the northeast – a characteristic tilt which is obvious to this day.

There are various reports recorded at the time, Sunday Times 25th September 1920.

Sussex Daily News 15th July 1918. 19th Febuary,1920, 24th May 1920.

    It had a tilt, there    to    this day.

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One Comment
  1. Stephen Ireland permalink

    I live in Southwick and can see the entry to the harbour and would like to know more.

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