Wednesday, September 13, 2023

‘Island of Hope’ – Bull Sand Fort Sells For 880% Above Guide

Once planned as an ‘Island of Hope’ for detoxing drug addicts, derelict Bull Sand Fort in the Humber Estuary sells at auction for 880% above its £50,000 guide price

The British get into a tizzy about islands and castles and when Bull Sand Fort in the Humber Estuary, near Hull was placed on the market recently it was inevitable that its £50,000 ($60,100, €58,700 or درهم220,600) guide price was going to attract the usual dreamers and wannabe Grand Designers.


Just as with the sale of McDermott’s Island – featured in The Steeple Times in November 2018 when offered for sale at £79,000 ($94,900, €92,700 or درهم348,500) and still one of our most repeatedly opened articles to this day – interest in this kind of property clearly ignites the passions of the public.


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Described as being in “need of refurbishment” but with “potential for development and alternative uses,” here is a structure that could be turned into a destination hotel, Bond villain type lair or even a truly unusual Airbnb. When it came on the market, “bemused locals” are said to have “jokingly asked: ‘Do Tesco deliver?’”
McDermott’s Island at the southeastern end of Lough Key, near Boyle in County Roscommon proved very popular with readers of ‘The Steeple Times’ in spite of the castle there being in a very “perilous state.” Associated with the Legend of Una Bhan – the tragic story of a girl who fell in love with the son of the clan chief owner of the island – McDermott’s Island also featured in the works of W. B. Yeats and was visited by Sir Bob Geldoff when he made a BBC film titled ‘A Fanatic Heart’ about the Irish poet in 2016. It was previously used for the Sky One sitcom ‘Moone Boy’ starring Steve Coogan and Johnny Vegas in 2014.

Built between 1915 and 1919 with the intention of being used in the First World War but not actually put into actual operation until the Second World War, the now Grade II listed sea fort offered for sale was one of two fortifications intended to protect the strategically important ports of Hull and Grimsby from German submarines.


Originally “featuring 12-inches of armour designed to withstand gunfire from naval units,” according to the selling agents Savills, “during World War II, it was armed, besides the usual small and rapid-fire weapons, by two 6-inch guns and two 6-pounder guns. It had sufficient accommodation for a garrison of 200 men… The fort was decommissioned in 1956.”


Going further, they add: “The fort includes 3 floors with basement and magazine below sea level, and central 2-storey observation tower. Fresh water supply is available at the fort via an artesian well. Externally there is a balcony and jetty.”


Sold in 1997 to the since defunct Streetwise Charitable Trust – who intended to turn it into an ‘Island of Hope’ for detoxing drug addicts – Bull Sand Fort is of 4-storeys and the larger of the two structures. It is said to have been constructed with “great difficulty as its sandbank is 11-feet below water.”


In spite of being a rotting hunk of concrete that is 1.5 miles from dry land and only accessible by boat, Bull Sand Fort knocked down at auction yesterday for £490,000 ($588,500, €575,000 or درهم2.2 million) or 880% above the guide price by Savills.


The smaller of the two forts, Haile Sand Fort – also known as Sand Haile Fort – sold for £117,000 ($140,500, €137,300 or درهم516,000) at auction in October 2018 to a “mysterious buyer” on a guide price of £90,000 ($108,100, €105,600 or درهم397,000). It appeared in an article in GrimsbyLive this year and photographs indicated that though it appears in a better condition than Bull Sand Fort, it is still to be redeveloped.


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Of the property, Steven Morish of Savills told the BBC that it was an “exciting and unique lot” and added it could be “a high-end hotel, restaurant, ‘Grand Designs’ style personal dwelling, retreat or a tourist attraction.” Honorary research fellow at the Blaydes Maritime Centre at the University of Hull Dr Robb Robinson mockingly responded: “The building would be a bit ‘short on mod cons and a bit bracing’ for anyone to live there. ‘If somebody can up with something interesting to do with it, that would be fantastic,’ he added.”
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During the Second World War a steel mesh was stretched between the two structures and across the mouth of the estuary to prevent enemy submarines getting to the strategically important ports of Hull and Grimsby. Now, perhaps, given his liking for warring and the fact that the country likes him out of sight, maybe the buyer could let Boris Johnson and his puppet mistress move in. They’d be far enough out to see, after all, to stop annoying the nation whilst allowing them to blast out ABBA whilst only annoying seagulls.
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The Streetwise Charitable Trust planned to rename the construction the ‘Island of Hope’ and had a working name of ‘Detox UK.’ They intended to provide “purposeful front-line help to people blighted by unrelenting addiction who have reached a critical point to recover from alcohol and substance abuse.” They added that they intended “to provide a free, safe and secure medical detox facility on a World War One island fort located in the River Humber estuary for 30 days.” They are now listed as a “removed charity” and the future of this very unusual structure is now in the hands of whoever paid 880% above its guide price yesterday.
Matthew Steeples
Matthew Steeples
A graduate of the London School of Economics, Matthew Steeples is a writer and marketing consultant. He conceived The Steeple Times as a media arena to fill the void between the Mail Online, The Huffington Post and such organs as the New York Social Diary in 2012.


  1. Hmm..dont know if it can be given curb appeal with awnings and window boxes..but how interesting to know of it such a place.

  2. Not too knowledgeable about this but,intend to research it. Very interesting. Also OT. Just want all you going through this terrible heat to know, you’re ALL in our prayers here in America. I feel blessed to have air conditioning. God bless!😍

  3. Thank you Lottie.

    I can only speak for myself and having experienced 51 degrees in Crete, I think a whole load of scaremongering has been ongoing.

    As for a trip to the island…….I’ll pass on that one.

  4. Thanks for responding Joan. Yes, I understand scaremongering is real & people fall for it.. On a personal level though, I’m a person that has to have air conditioning. This 72 year.old body can’t take much heat. Was shopping with my son & almost died & store called emsa. My bp.was like in the 40\’s. Luckily a registered nurse was there & had me stabilized before emsa arrived. My heart hurts for people with compromised immune systems though. Have a great day joan.Well it’s 5:40 pm.where I live. Anyway, all.the best to you! Xoxo

  5. Would love to have seen the construction of this, it’s very interesting considering floors are below sea level. I wonder if they have an issue with Rising damp, oh no Miss Jones.


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