THE first stage of restoration work on the gatehouse entrance of Coalhouse Fort has begun.

Emergency funding from English Heritage and further money from Thurrock Council and the Coalhouse Fort Project has enabled the £200,000 scheme, the first major restoration in the fort’s history, to get off the ground.

Project spokesperson Ken Levy said: “The condition of the gatehouse was such that English Heritage provided emergency funding for the project.

“The work is scheduled to take approximately 20 weeks but will be arranged around regular fort open days so that these can continue as planned.”

The gatehouse contains the guardroom, prison cells and other rooms which were used by the military garrison.

As part of the restoration the roof will be replaced along with part of the first floor, to allow safe access to the fort to continue.

Mr Levy added: ““There are insufficient funds to complete the gatehouse to bring all rooms into use whilst further money is being sought to enable this to be completed.”

The next open day at the fort is on Sunday March 29.