First report in a couple years, still been getting out and about but just been very busy with other life admin for reports, got a day at home on the sick twiddling my thumbs so thought i would write summit up about our trip to red sands last year. Did the trip with bigjobs, paradox, riddlers, FB, slayaa and a few other guys who i think are registered but post on the forums even less than me so god knows what their usernames are.
Bit of History
The Maunsell Forts are armed towers built in the Thames and Mersey estuaries during the Second World War to help defend the United Kingdom. They were operated as army and navy forts, and named after their designer, Guy Maunsell. The forts were decommissioned in the late 1950s and later used for other activities including pirate radio broadcasting. One of the forts is managed by the unrecognised Principality of Sealand; boats visit the remaining forts occasionally, and a consortium called Project Redsands is planning to conserve the fort situated at Red Sands.
In the summers of 2007 and 2008 Red Sands Radio, a station commemorating the pirate radio stations of the 1960s, operated from the Red Sands fort on 28-day Restricted Service Licences. The fort was subsequently declared unsafe, and Red Sands Radio has moved its operations ashore to Whitstable.
Previously, forts had been built in rivermouths and similar locations to defend against ships, such as the Grain Tower Batteryat the mouth of the Medway dating from 1855, Plymouth Breakwater Fort, completed 1865, the four Spithead Forts: Horse Sand Fort, No Mans Land and St Helens Forts which were built 1865-80; and Spitbank Fort, built in the 1880s, the Humber Forts on Bull & Haile Sands, completed in late 1919, and the Nab Tower, intended as part of a World War I anti-submarine defence but only set in place in 1920.
There are seven towers in the Red Sands group, at the mouth of the Thames Estuary. These towers were previously connected by metal grate walk-ways. In 1959 consideration was given to refloating the Red Sands Fort and bringing the towers ashore, but the costs were prohibitive. In the early 21st century there were threats that the fort could be demolished so a group called Project Redsands was formed to try and preserve the fort. It is currently the only fort that can be accessed safely from a platform in between the legs of one of the towers.[
Wanted to do this since seeing bigjobs and FBs trip out their on the kayaks through the mist, if you havent seen it already definitely well worth a look, makes for a better read than mine will anyway! We didn't fancy the kayaks this time so we all got the outboards out and set sale with some horsepower behind us.....untill mine died, i say until it died, it never really got going, overheated and cut out in a puff of smoke in the first 5 minutes. That was my first outboard, i had a smaller backup outboard just in case of any such incidents as the first bigger outboard i had literally collected off ebay on the way down. anyway long outboard story short, i got towed out by bigjobs, that was once we eventually got in the water, everyone else had already been out one night but me and sarah were late to the party so we came in first thing. i say first thing, we were late to meet up with jobs and ended up chasing the tide with all the gear, would get half the gear out to the waters edge then by the time the other half was in the same spot the bloody tide had moved another 10m! We did eventually get in the water and headed out to the forts.
On the approach to the sea fort we passed through some leisure boats circling the forts taking tourists out to see the forts, no doubt all wondering what the hell was going because just as we pulled in the riddlers came zipping down the rope and landed in FBs rib like a pro navy seal. We got the boats tied up and ascended up to the forts to crack open a beer and enjoy the views! FB and riddlers decided they were going to have a pop at getting up one of the other struts to see if they could get a line across vertically with the crossbow to sort out a traverse, they got the line across but then beers and food happened so no one went for the traverse. Had a lovely evening on the forts, amazing sunset watching the freight ships chugging past. FB and jane went for a jolly out to the wind farm Time for tea and bangers and mash was on the menu but i had forgotten my camping gas, luckily i managed to bodge my camping stove onto a big bottle of calor gas which had been left on the fort, bit of rubber hose a few cable ties and a bit of dismantling on the burners part and the bangers mash was a success!
We woke up to fairly choppy waters, made for a rushed and slightly tense departure in the morning, the choppy waters had snapped one of the lines holding the boats in position ready to ab down into. The boats were now drifting about 10m away from the bottom of the ab rope. cant remember who it was now, either fb or riddlers had to ab down and try and drag all the boats over back in line underneath the ab rope and then get a line out to replace the snapped one. We got lucky with the rope that did snap, if the other line had snapped the current would have dragged the boats into the struts and the barnacles would have torn the boats to shreds and we really would have been up shit creek. oh yeah i forgot, at this point we had yet another dead outboard! the riddlers pull chord had snapped off the day before, i went on the hunt round the forts and found a rusty old socket set in an old toolbox so the first job once back in the boats in the choppy sea was for law to try and get his outboard sorted. luckily the sea did begin to calm down as we were all abing down into the boats and we set back off without any major incidents. It was a big realization just what a relentless and unforgiving force the sea can be, as an awesome and adventure as this is its one that can go wrong very quickly. There had been plenty of prep and investment gone into this adventure, we made sure everyone had suitable life jackets, radios, flares, everyone had rope experience, big help having someone who knows their way around an outboard engines etc etc, its certainly not a walk in the park operation! big thanks to jobs, for getting everything all rigged up prior to our arrival, it sounds like you all had a rough time of it getting up there the first night!
Riddlers doing his navy seal impresson
Right tools for the job.
bed for the night
The bangers and mash will go on!
Thanks for reading and bigger thanks to everyone who made it happen. see you again in 2 years for another report!
Sadly I couldn't get much info about this beautiful mansion.
Located in a very little town in northen Italy, it seems that it was built between the 19th and 20th century, and abandoned during the 80s.
Photos shot with Praktica mtl3, Pentacon 29mm f/2.8 on Kodak Colorplus.
Albania is one of those countries where I didn't really know what to expect. Recent history saw the collapse of communism in the 90s which caused the economy to crash. Since then It has made remarkable economic progress, growing from one of the poorest nations in Europe to a middle-income country, with poverty declining by half during that period. We travelled from north to south and back again taking in a few places along the way. The people are friendly, the food is good, it has decent weather, and everything is extremely cheap. Here's some of what I got up to with Adders, extreme_ironing, Otter and Reenie.
In the main square of Tirana the National History Museum has this famous mosaic called 'The Albanian' on the front. It tells the story of how Albanians have fought against invasion and occupation throughout the centuries.
Just down the road are these colourful government buildings
In the middle of the countryside we passed this communist monument, the 5 red stars symbolising communist ideology
Shëngjin Naval Base
After an epic fail elsewhere we headed to this small naval base which turned out to be pretty cool. I've already written a separate report on this so I won't include much about it here.
Fier Power Plant
Fier Power Station was Albania's largest thermal power plant having 6 identical groups of 31 MW each, totalling a capacity of 186 MW. The plant was decommissioned in 2007. Much of the site next to it was a fertiliser factory powered by the plant. The whole site has been completely stripped now, leaving just bland shells of buildings. The imposing chimneys and cooling towers however remain visible for miles as a reminder of its former importance.
Old security office next to the original gate
Always wanted a shot of adders pissing
Cooling tower ladders have long since been removed
The best bit about this place was taking in the views from one of the factory towers, although the staircase was a bit of a headfuck
Factory buildings below
The turbine hall. Amazingly two security guys appeared from nowhere and made us leave before we could grab any shots of the inside. You're really not missing much though as the turbines have been removed along with everything else. Why anyone is securing it is completely beyond me!
Kombinati Metalurgjik, Elbasan
Elbasan is located about 50km from the capital of Albania, Tirana. The Kombinati Metalurgjik steel works, a flagship of the Albanian industry, was built between the 1960s and 1970s. The complex was built by Chinese engineers with the assistance of Albanian specialists. The levels of pollution caused by the plant were the subject of much controversy in the 90s. The size of the site is colossal but only a few buildings remain operational today. Much of it is derelict beyond repair or has already been flattened.
Most of the buildings you see in the distance here are barely standing. You can see the remains of a blast furnace to the left.
The only buildings worth a look were located right next to the live site. This one was locked up tight with several dogs acting as security inside.
Next door a few buildings were wide open
Buckets for pouring molten steel
Small control room. After this we went back to the car and found an old man shaking his walking stick at us angrily so we left.
There were a few more buildings full of stuff that we didn't manage to get into as they were well locked up. Definitely a bit more to see here I think but nothing too epic.
Përrenjas - Locomotive Graveyard
The country's first standard gauge line was built in 1947. From then on the construction of the country's rail network underwent significant development as Albania was considered to be the only state in Europe not to have standard rail service. By 1987, 677 km of railway had been constructed in total, linking the main urban and industrial centres for the first time since the end of World War II. Train transport was the main transportation method until 1990. After the collapse of Communism, and increase in use of motor vehicles, the network fell into disrepair. Today the country's rail network is almost entirely defunct. In Përrejas we visited this group of abandoned diesel ČKD T669 locomotives.
Përrenjas abandoned station. There was a man inside there who didn't appreciate us climbing on the trains
Pyramid of Tirana
On 14 October 1988, the pyramid opened as a museum about the legacy of Enver Hoxha, the long-time leader of Communist Albania, who died in 1985. When built, the pyramid was said to be the most expensive individual structure ever constructed in Albania. After 1991, following the collapse of Communism, the museum closed and for several years it was repurposed as a conference centre and exhibition venue. During the 1999 Kosovo War, the former museum was used as a base by NATO and humanitarian organisations. Since 2001, part of the Pyramid has been used as a broadcasting centre by Albanian media outlets Top Channel and Top Albania Radio. Numerous proposals have been made to demolish the structure but the majority of Tirana's citizens are against the demolition. In 2017 it was announced that the pyramid will not be demolished, but refurbished. In 2018, a new project was unveiled that would turn the Pyramid into a technology centre for youth focused on computer programming, robotics, and start ups.
Inside I bumped into a sleepy eyed squatter who invited me to take a look around.
We meant to have a pop at this under construction skyscraper overlooking the main square but unfortunately ran out of time
Not a particularly impressive view from up here but certainly a unique one
A few friends we made along the way
A bunker full of goats all set for the apocalypse. Just one of the 173,371 bunkers in Albania!
Thanks for looking!