Neither fort is open to the public but both can be viewed from the shore. Bull Sand is best viewed from Spurn Point which is accessed via a pleasant walk along the peninsula (now a nature reserve). The remains of shore batteries are also visible along this route. Haile Sand Fort can be viewed from the beach at Cleethorpes.
NO OFFICIAL SITE
Humber Forts. The two forts were built to defend the entrance to the Humber estuary and operated in conjunction with shore batteries on Spurn Point.
Car Park (Cleethorpes)
Haile Sand Fort
Car Parking (Spurn)
Bull Sand Fort
Notes: The beach at Cleethorpes, best for viewing Haile Sand Fort, has a dedicated (pay and display) car park. At Spurn Point Nature Reserve, for Bull Sand Fort, there is a car park at the entrance followed by a 3 mile walk to view the structure at its closest point to land.
The outbreak of World War I led to a review of coastal defences and in 1915 two large circular forts were built in the Humber estuary; Bull Sand Fort and Haile Sand Fort. Both remained in use during World War II before being decommissioned in 1956.
HISTORY OF THE HUMBER FORTS
The outbreak of World War I in 1914 led to the threat of German naval activity in the north sea - both from U-boats and the Grand Fleet - prompting a series of defences along the East Coast. The Humber estuary was assigned as a safe muster area for convoys and accordingly a number of defences were built to control the entrance. Two batteries were installed on either side of Spurn Point and two forts were built in the estuary itself; Haile Sand Fort, in immediate vicinity of the Lincolnshire coast, and Bull Sand Fort. Work started on these in May 1915.
Bull Sand Fort
Bull Sand Fort was the larger of the two fortifications designed to dominate the primary channel into the Humber estuary. The fort was constructed on top of a submerged sandbank by driving two concentric steel rings into the ground and depositing thousands of tons of chalk and rubble to form a firm foundation. The fort itself was a four-level, steel framed, circular structure reinforced by concrete and its seaward side was fitted out with 12-inches of armour designed to withstand gunfire from heavy naval units. It was armed with four 6-inch MkVII guns and had four searchlights. It had sufficient accommodation for a garrison of 200 men with fresh water pumped into storage tanks from a natural stream below the seabed. The complexity of the fort's construction meant that it wasn't actually completed until December 1919 - over a year after the First World War had ended.
Bull Sand Fort was mothballed during the inter-war years but in 1939 was manned by the East Riding Heavy Artillery Regiment (442 Coast). By this period the threat for fast motor attack boats had increased and so the fort's armament was modified to include two 6-pounder Quick Firing Guns.
Haile Sand Fort
Haile Sand Fort was built on a hexagonal concrete foundation on a sandbank some 500 metres off the Lincolnshire coast and was operational by late 1917. A four storey structure, it was a circular concrete fort covered with light steel armour. Additional steel supports internal to the fort hardened the structure further. A two-storey central battery observation tower topped the structure and it was originally armed with two 4-inch Quick Firing Guns.
Like Bull Sand, the fort was garrisoned by East Riding Heavy Artillery Regiment (442 Coast) from 1939 onwards at which time the fort was armed with two 12-pounder guns. These were downgraded to two 6-pounders in 1941.
A review of coastal defence led to the army decommissioning both forts in 1956. Today both are abandoned, aside from hosting automated navigational markers, although are in sound condition.