An abandoned First World War fort in the Humber Estuary has been sold at auction.
Bull Sand Fort was bought by an unnamed buyer for £490,000 in July this year. It sits three miles from the port of Grimsby and can only be reached by boat or helicopter.
The four-level steel structure was constructed between 1915 and 1919, along with a smaller companion fort on Haile Sand, to protect the sea entrance to the Humber Estuary. However, both forts were completed after the war ended.
The larger fort had four basic levels: a cellar, bottom floor, first floor, and a roof gundeck. The entire structure was reinforced with concrete to withstand enemy gunfire and could house up to 200 people.
Bull Sand was originally armed with four 6-inch breech-loading MKVII guns and four 90cm searchlights to protect the estuary.
The area had been exposed to enemy attacks since the beginning of the war, with Scarborough, Hartlepool, and Whitby attacked by the German fleet as early as autumn 1914.
In the interwar years, the fort was used by the Territorial Army for seaward firing practice. It was temporarily reactivated during the Munich Crisis of 1938.
Once the Second World War broke out the following year, it was reactivated fully, acting as a guard against hostile motor torpedo boats entering the Humber.
Dr Robb Robinson of the University of Hull said the forts were a reminder of a ‘long-ago age of maritime conflict, built when Britain’s east coast was on the maritime frontline.’
After the war, the fort briefly served as a peacetime garrison until the mid-1950s. Robinson said the building would have then been ‘short on mod cons and a bit bracing’ for anyone who lived there.
After that, Bull Sand lay derelict for many decades. A 1998 plan to convert it into an offshore drug and alcohol detoxification centre fell through.
Estate agents Savills said there had been ‘a lot’ of bidders for the building, which had a starting price of £50,000. It was described on the agent’s website as a detached property ‘in need of refurbishment’, while ideas for possible future use have included a luxury hotel, restaurant, or private retreat.
The Haile Sand fort sold at auction in 2018 for £117,000.