Today, my friend Joe Mander and I, ventured out from Benfleet station along the Benfleet side of the Ray west, and passed the Second World War pillbox. We then walked north through the wooded area immediately west of the sewage works, towards a square ‘enclosure’ visible clearly on satellite imagery like Google Maps. A few weeks back I saw the Benfleet Community Archive at a community event on Canvey and their representative told me about ‘the mags’ – explosives magazines (ammunition stores) from the early 20th Century or late Victorian era. He said that it was rumoured they were used as storage from barges carrying explosives down the Thames – one such ‘lighterboat’ lies stranded in Wat Tyler Country Park, which was an explosives factory at the time of ‘the mags’, just like another on the site of Coryton oil refinery. I looked this up when I got home, and listened to an audio account on this website which mentions them and their location.
I decided it was time to set out and have a look! So, we came across the mysterious ruins, and they were indeed quite impressive! It was a privilege to be the first to photograph the exquisite construction. I have to say that, for their size, it is highly rare for such remains to be almost unheard of, with their only mention on the internet being the audio clip I previously mentioned. With the experience of visiting many similar remains, I can say there is usually at least one or two photographs online – but here, none! It truly was a ‘eureka’ discovery. A full album of photos can be seen here as well as the pillbox: http://tempuri.org/tempuri.html
[Editor’s Note – Please see the comment below, dated 17/05/2013, which was added by Liam, the author of this page. The remains that he and Joe believed to be Victorian ammunition magazines actually would appear to be the remains of the original sewage treatment plant as mentioned in the comment by William West. As requested by Liam, the references to magazines have been changed.]
Little is known however about the remains which are believed to be the original sewage treatment plant – please drop a comment below if you can enlighten me!
For more information and images on unseen historic remains in South Essex, visit http://tempuri.org/tempuri.html