Travelling to Tilbury to visit the fort

93 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type

Things to do

Date of travel

March, 2024

Product name

Tilbury Fort, Essex

Product country


Product city

Tilbury, Essex

Travelled with


Reasons for trip


As we live in East Kent, driving to Tilbury in Essex means using the dreaded Dartford crossing so I was keen to go via the Tilbury Ferry from Gravesend before the service finished at the end of March (due to withdrawal of subsidies from the relevant councils). We boarded the Jetstream ferry `Jacob Marley’ from the historic Gravesend Town Pier; the Town Pier was erected in 1834, designed and built by William Tierney Clark, and is the oldest cast iron pier in the world. It was fairly recently restored and a riverside bar/restaurant opened on it but that is no longer there so the pier is now an empty shell, presumably awaiting work by its new owners, Thames Clippers. Hopefully they will install some toilets as for those in need the nearest ones are uphill in the town centre or in a nearby pub.

The crossing from the pontoon only took about 5 minutes and as it was a sunny day we enjoyed our short ‘cruise’ from Gravesend to Tilbury which is known to some as the location of an international cruise terminal. On leaving the port we had to use the pedestrian Tilbury Bridge ‘Walkway of Memories’ so called because the original historic 55 metre long walkway was used as a ‘location specific’ art installation dedicated to the people of the Windrush generation, many of whom arrived from the Carribean in large numbers from 1948 and would have walked along this bridge (although many had arrived in Britain before the war). The installation features photographs and documents of 130 families telling stories in their own words of their arrival, lives and their contribution to British society. All the images are printed on opaque plastic material and fixed to the original glass of the walkway windows so the light shines through. I thought it was sad that the bridge had been allowed to deteriorate – panes of glass were missing, wooden walls and window frames needed repainting – and I remarked that it wouldn’t be long before it started falling apart. It seems that I was right as just one month after we walked along the bridge something is being done as I’ve just read that the bridge has been closed ‘until further notice’; hopefully to repair it and not to close it permanently to the public because the ferry has closed down, but who knows in these straitened times.

Leaving the ferry terminal we turned right and followed the signs to Tilbury Fort, walking east along the coastal path. There was a bus stop just outside the docks which operated to and from the railway station in Tilbury; whether this bus route will continue to run now that there is no ferry to Gravesend remains to be seen, but if it does this is another way that people without cars can get within walking distance of Tilbury Fort.

Walking along the sea wall we had good views of Gravesend on the other side of the Thames, while on the Essex side there were warehouses, what looked like a huge recently built recycling plant and then acres of marshland. We enjoyed the short walk in the sun and soon passed a white painted clapboard pub ‘The World’s End’, but it was before opening time. A little further on we saw the outer moat of Tilbury Fort and then the inner moat, complete with egrets. There were information boards about the various forts that had been built in the past to defend London from attack by sea. Obviously the Coastal Path continues along the banks of the Thames and another fort location can be reached – that of Coalhouse Fort, built in the 1860’s as an additional frontline defence of the Thames.

From the sea wall it is possible to appreciate the structure and layout of Tilbury Fort and even see some of the WW2 guns along the south-eastern ramparts. The fort has seen many changes over the centuries; it is now looked after by English Heritage and is open to the public – in the Winter it’s only open at weekends but in Spring and Summer on many more days (see the website for more information about opening days, times and prices for admission for those who are not members of English Heritage). Prices are lower for booked visits.

For those driving to the fort there is a parking space just outside the impressive stone 17th century Water Gate. My review of visitingTilbury Fort itself is a separate article.


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