The Tilbury Collier Station

the winning post for collier skippers

The Tilbury Collier Station, 1960
from John Smith
Another view of the Collier Station
from John Smith
The Tilbury Collier Station, front view, 1950s
from John Smith

The little red and white striped hut which stood near Tilbury Fort, was the collier signal station. It was run by the coal factors society, and its primary purpose was to organise and then inform the collier skippers of their berthing arrangments. The station was used as a winning post if two skippers were racing for the same berth the loser had to lie at anchor in the river while the winner unloaded. The instructions were passed by either wireless or loud hailer as the ship passed the station. The station was manned continually by four men in 12 hour shifts. It eventually closed down in the late 1970s.

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  • John Smith, who contributed these photos, died a few years back. My understanding is that he gave us the rights to these photos, so we are happy to allow you to use them in the catalogue.

    John Matthews (Webmaster)

    By rjm (08/09/2023)
  • Thanks for these great photos! I used them as reference for a large oil painting of Tilbury Hailing/Signalling Station and the 2 Power Stations (set in late 1970). It can be seen in my Art Exhibition which just opened at Tilbury Fort during the Thames Festival 1 Sept till 1 Oct 2023. I would love to know if I could reproduce your photos in a little art catalogue?

    By Anna Keen (08/09/2023)
  • My dad, Jack (Brian) Smith was one of the four men up to mid 1974. Spent many a fun time down there after catching the train to Tilbury Riverside with my mum. Went there a few years ago and glad to see there’s a plaque/sign about it on the seawall/walk near the fort.

    By Stuart (26/10/2022)
  • Thanks for posting these images. As a kid I spent days and days along the river swimming here and diving off the old coal jetty. We used to fish and crab off the causeway that’s revealed when the tide goes out as well. But one of the best things we used to do along this stretch was to go and retrieve all the fishing gear that got caught up in the rocks, metal in the mudflats here. We’d walk right across the front of the station and always wondered what it was for. There is an exceptionally good painting of this building that was hung in a Barbers shop In Southend Rd, near the library in Grays as recent at 1988. The barber’s has gone, but I’d love to see or own that painting – I wonder where it is now?

    By Dave Thompson (08/08/2021)
  • My father was one of the 4 men that worked 12hr shifts covering 365 days a year here. I often went to work with him for the day when I was a child spending my day playing on the shoreline and around the fort and moat. I visited the site for the first time for 50 years this week and was delighted to find the information board with the details about this little red and whit striped hut. 

    By Chris (24/10/2015)
  • Amazing that it’s taken sixty years to find out what this little building was used for. As kids we’d be going past it almost daily during the school holidays, I think we assumed it had something to do with the shipping, but what exactly..nobody seemed to know.Looking at these photos it’s like i’m there again, thank you.

    By Mark Nunnery (04/07/2013)

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