New BBC1 drama Taboo transports viewers back to 1814 London.
A mysterious adventurer played by Tom Hardy returns from Africa for the funeral of his father and soon clashes with the East India Company over his inheritance – a parcel of land on the coast of America.
In the early 19th century, the East India Company was the most powerful company in the world, with its own docks in the East End. But Taboo was filmed much further down the Thames at Tilbury Fort, an old artillery fort that protected London for centuries.
Hardy at his most mysterious at Tilbury Fort
Taboo took over the fort for three months, transforming the exterior into the streets of historic Wapping. The production also filmed interior scenes in the historic gunpowder magazines (buildings used to store vast quantities of explosive gunpowder).
Tilbury Fort is an artillery fort on the north bank of the River Thames, east of London and towards the Thames Estuary. Early forts existed on the site, but it came to prominence as it was enlarged from 1670 onwards – following the Anglo-Dutch Wars which had seen naval raids up the Thames – into the distinctive star-shaped fort that can be seen today.
With angular bastions, water-filled moats and two lines of guns facing onto the river, it was a formidable barrier, and remains the best surviving example of this type of coastal defence in Britain.
The fort was developed over subsequent centuries, with storage depots and an artillery battery added during the Napoleonic Wars – the time Taboo is set. Eventually changing technologies made the site obsolete, and although used during the First and Second World Wars, it was taken over by the Ministry of Works (now English Heritage) in 1950, and it is now open to visitors at the weekends.
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