What was the Bay Museum?

The Bay Museum was a Cold War defense building, planned and built from 1962-1963, as a result of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which almost concluded with a nuclear missile exchange between NATO (USA, Britian, Canada, and other European countries) and the Soviet Union, today Russia and the surrounding part of Eastern Europe. With this incredibly close call, many nuclear defences were reinforced, and many more were added, such as Canvey Degaussing Range Station.

The DG Station would have sent out a wire loop out to the middle of the Thames, which still remains somewhere on the seabed to this day. A piece of the wire is on display in the museum itself. There would have been two of these loops, which would have ended at the Station wired up to surveillance equipment. These loops would have been used to pick up electrical signals caused by magnetism from passing ships. In the Second World War, magnetically-detonated mines were placed around the English shoreline (especially the Thames and other docks) by the Germans, which would detonate if a ship passed over one, interrupting its magnetic field, causing it to be set-off, creating devastating underwater shock-waves for ships. The DG Station, or ‘Canvey Loop’ as sometimes known, would have monitored to see if passing ships had a device (electrified wire loop) wrapped around them to demagnetize the ships and therefore make them immune to magnetic underwater mines.  The ships co-ordinates would be measured from a range-finder on the balcony, plus other equipment inside, and marked for needing a ‘de-mag’ device to be fitted. As the Cold War never turned hot and no magnetic mines were emplaced by the Soviets, the station was never used, although still fully kitted out and put on standby by the MOD.

A German magnetic mine

In the Cold War, both magnetic mines left over from WW2, and ‘to be deployed’ magnetic mines by Communist states/Soviet Russia, were a threat. Therefore the Degaussing Stations were constructed – not that many exist in the UK, and still just a few exist in the USA. The Bay Museum is undoubtedly the most suspicious and suitably-fashioned station in the country, with others simply being maybe an old house. One other can be seen in the walls of Coalhouse Fort, in Tilbury – a fort which saw dominant fortification in WW2.

The DG Station at Coalhouse Fort