The Nore is a sandbank at the mouth of the Thames Estuary, England. It marks the point where the River Thames meets the North Sea, roughly halfway between Havengore Creek in Essex and Warden Point in Kent.
Until 1964 it marked the seaward limit of the Port of London Authority. As the sandbank was a major hazard for shipping coming in and out of London, in 1732 it received the world's first lightship. This became a major landmark, and was used as an assembly point for shipping. Today it is marked by Sea Reach No. 1 Buoy.
The Nore is a hazard to shipping, so in 1732 the world's first lightship was moored over it in an experiment by Robert Hamblin, who patented the idea. The experiment must have proved successful, because by 1819 England had nine lightships. The Nore lightship was run by Trinity House, General Lighthouse Authority for England (and Wales, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar).
The early Nore lightships were small wooden vessels, often Dutch-built galliots. By the end of the nineteenth century a larger ship with a revolving light had appeared, but after about 1915 the authorities ceased to use a lightship. Sea Reach No. 1 Buoy as of 2006 marks the anchorage-point of the former lightship, about midway between Shoeburyness in Essex and the Isle of Sheppey in Kent. This defines the limit of the Thames and the beginning of the North Sea.
The Nore has been the site of a Royal Navy anchorage after the age of sail, being adjacent to both the city and port of London and to the Medway, England's principal naval base and dockyard on the North Sea.
During the French Revolutionary War it was the scene of a notorious mutiny, when seamen protesting against their poor pay and working conditions refused orders and seized control of their ships in May 1797. The mutiny ended in June, but while the ringleaders were punished, much was done by the Admiralty to improve pay and conditions for the seamen.
From 1899 to 1955, the Royal Navy maintained a Commander-in-Chief, The Nore, a senior officer responsible for protecting the entrance to the port of London, and merchant traffic along the east coast of Britain. In the First World War the Nore Command principally had a supply and administrative function, but in the Second World War it oversaw naval operations in the North Sea along the East coast of Britain, guarding against invasion and protecting trade.
Also throughout the Second World War a series of defensive towers, known as Maunsell Forts were built in the Thames estuary to protect the approach to London from air and sea attack. The Nore was the site of one of these, the Great Nore Tower. It was equipped with a battery of anti-aircraft guns and manned by a unit of the British Army. It was completed in 1943, but was abandoned at the end of hostilities. It was badly damaged in a collision in 1953 and dismantled in 1959–60.