Thorney Bay Army Camp
Scars Elbow & Dead Mans Point
In 1940 a six pounder Coastal Artillery Battery was constructed at Scars Elbow Point on Canvey Island, its purpose being to guard against enemy torpedo boat raids. Twin hand loaded 6 pounder gun turrets were installed that could deliver up to 100 rounds a minute. It never saw action and was dismantled soon after the war and later abandoned in 1956. Aerial photographs taken in 1946 and 1960 show two large gun Casemates 40 yards apart.
I remember as a child in the late 1960’s walking along the Sea Wall past some of these concrete structures that had large slots facing the Thames. It was dark inside but my brother tells me they still had the chained lifting mechanisms inside to carry the shells up to the former guns. Apparently there were also five Searchlight positions to illuminate the water. The Camp now has all but gone, the Sea Wall based positions being destroyed or buried under the new higher Sea Wall built in the early 1980’s.
In 2008 there are still a few remains in the shadow of the Sea Wall. On the easterly end of the position of the Camp is a very solid concrete garage style structure with heavy steel doors (see Photos at the base of this page) said to be an ammunition store. Just to its west there is another Concrete structure protruding out of the Seawall (again see photos at the base of this page). This area has the designation “SMR7165” and is at National Grid Reference (NGR) TQ 7868 8202.
Just to the East of Scars Elbow was the older six inch Coastal Artillery Battery at Dead Mans Point, just before Thorney Bay itself. This site has the designaton “SMR7216” at NGR TQ 7911 8216. This Battery was installed in WW1 for general defence of the East Coast. After the War in 1918 it was mothballed until 1938 when it was brought back to life for WW2. My Grandad Fred Moss told me he used to drive to the camp when he was in the Services.
Along with two Gun Casemates on the Sea Wall 40 yards apart, there were approximately 35 various army structures including huts and lookout towers. I remember a remaining lookout tower in the 1960’s that was barbedwired off but people still used to climb it, including Peter Wonnacot who took the two amazing photos featured exclusively here! It is said the battery was manned by ‘175 Thames & Medway Heavy Battery R.A. Coast’. Many of the buildings survived well into the late 1990’s but now have sadly all but gone.
The site was incorporated into Colonel Fielder’s Thorney Bay Camp & Caravan site where many Londoners spent their holidays by the sea side, including my Grandparents. Today the Caravans are slowly making way for mobile homes as has happened at Kings Camp at Newlands. As for the Army Camp, there remains here another Concrete Ammunition Garage with its steel doors and there was a ‘Cross Thames Cable’ Hut right up until early this year (Feb 2008) when it was flattened leaving only the small adjacent warning pole. Fortunatley I managed to get some photographs of it a week before (See below). It may have been used by the Post Office, does anyone know its purpose? There is also supposed to be a Pump House in this area but I haven’t seen it.
Click below to see what few pictures we have of these bases and the photos I have taken of what remains on the site. If you have any information, memories or Photographs please contact us or leave a comment below.