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Report - Winchelsea Caves, Dover - October 2016

Discussion in 'Underground Sites' started by Minor, Oct 11, 2016.

  1. Minor

    Minor 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

    Jul 17, 2016
    Likes Received:
    Visited with: @UrbanZ & @Dora Grew Up.


    The Winchelsea Caves, or Winchelsea to Priory Hill caves shelter as they've also been known, is a set of four parallel tunnels evenly spaced out and driven at right angles into the quarry face, ranging from 25 to 90 foot deep, with offshoot tunnels which would have contained the toilet blocks. Three of the tunnels join together further in and two of them then carry onto a shorter section of tunnel with two 45° offsets heading towards the former Westmount College (which has now been demolished), and the other routes head towards the Tower Hamlets quarry.

    The main tunnels were bored out towards the latter stages of WW1 (construction completed in 1918), to test a rotary cutting machine, possibly a Whittaker. This was a good site to test the machinery as the location also provided locals with an air raid shelter, double whammy.
    During WW2 these tunnels were used a a shelter which could house up to 1350 people. They contained bunk beds, flushing toilets, hot and cold running water, above ground decontamination center and first aid post with four rooms, which one resident, Gerald Sedgwick, took advantage of preferring to stay in the shelter rather than his own property.

    Documentation suggests King George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, took refuge within the tunnels on the 18th of October 1944. I always enjoy visiting sites important historical figures may have set foot in.


    We were originally planning on doing the college and tunnels as they were so close to each other it would have been illogical not to, however, approaching the main gate we were surprised to see a massive digger sitting right in the center of what was the college, great start to the day. I may have got a bit annoyed (in my defence it was early), so we left, regrouped, returned. The entrance we chose, although easy, was probably one of the harder ones to find, and involved getting soaked by morning-dew covered overgrowth whilst traipsing up and down an elevation, which is small price to pay. I wasn't expecting much measuring up what I thought was the full expanse from the surface, but once inside it feels deceptively large. This was a very fun explore and I especially liked some of the artwork on the walls.

    Onto the pics...

    Looking back at the entrance.

    Dog-leg blast protection.

    Long passageway leading to main chamber.


    White mould thriving on a rubbish dump.



    I found this carving quite impressive.


    Which way!?!?



    Thanks for looking.
    #1 Minor, Oct 11, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2016
    MJ720, Lil'Legs, Dora Grew Up and 3 others like this.

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  2. Dora Grew Up

    Dora Grew Up 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

    Apr 5, 2016
    Likes Received:
    Winchelsea was definitely more than I had been expecting.

    Amazing picture of the carving - I'd not even noticed it!
    Minor likes this.
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