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Report - Soldiers' Home Caves & Durham Hill Tunnel, Dover. Oct 2010

Discussion in 'Underground Sites' started by DarkDog, Oct 15, 2010.

  1. DarkDog

    DarkDog Too old to give a f*ck...
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    Whilst a lot of attention has been focussed on the eastern side of Dover over the last week, over on the western side, recent developments have led to a brief window of opportunity to access the most infamous, and least stable, of Dover's major ARP tunnels.

    Most of you are probably familiar with the various Oil Mill Caves, and more recently the neighbouring D.O.E Tunnels have received some attention, but it is the section of cliffs between York Street and the railway that hide an even more intricate network of ancient caves and connecting tunnels.

    Of the four cave systems, Scotts' Caves is isolated but Barwick's, Croucher's and the Soldiers' Home Caves are connected by tunnels constructed in the late 1930s, and a 620' tunnel links the Soldiers' Home Caves to Durham Hill, passing beneath Cowgate Cemetery on its way.

    On September 26, 1944, after 4 years of constant shelling by the German cross channel guns in the Cap Griz Nez region, Dover's salvation was at hand - Canadian troops were poised to make a final assault on the German positions, aided by aerial bombardment and the cross channel guns 'Winnie' and 'Pooh'. The German guns replied, and over 50 16" shells fell on Dover in a last ditch effort by the German gunners to use up their ammunition.

    Dover's residents spent most of the day in the shelters, and thought themselves safe from the bombardment until a one ton shell hit the Durham Hill Tunnel.
    Fired from Lindemann Battery near Sangatte, the shell completed its curve high above the town and impacted at a speed of 1500 feet per second and at an angle of about 35 degrees from the vertical. It penetrated through a grave in the Cowgate cemetery above the tunnel, and bored its way down through a further 24 feet of solid chalk before exploding 7 feet above the thick reinforced concrete roof of the tunnel. The blast chamber formed by the explosion ruptured the roof over a length of 12 feet and an old lady, Patience Ransley, sitting quietly below, was killed instantly.

    Engineer's Report Plan
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    Soldiers' Home Caves
    Before making our way to the Durham Hill Tunnel we had a mooch around the Soldiers' Home Caves and the Lime Kiln.

    1899 Plan of Soldiers' Home Caves
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    Right Hand Tunnel
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    Left Hand Tunnel
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    WW2 tunnel linking Soldiers' Home with Croucher's Caves
    4841119195_8623d10ffc_z.jpg 5079509594_1ba5fa6332_z.jpg

    The Lime Kiln Cave is bisected by the WW2 Tunnel
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    Steps leading to the Lime Kiln and the Kiln itself
    5078920669_acf9336348_z.jpg 5079515776_451a0831a1_z.jpg

    Durham Hill Tunnel
    Whether its because of the seismic vibrations caused by the shell's impact, or because the chalk is particularly unstable, but this tunnel better resembles a 200 year old mine rather than a 70 year old shelter. It is extremely unstable, with roof falls over a large part of its length and rotting timbers littering the way. There is also that uneasy feeling that the brown ooze is something more than creosote, especially considering that a cemetery is feet above your head.

    4841731566_e5258ff639_z.jpg

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    Looking back to the last shot you can just make out the slope of the tunnel
    5079504184_772cc4a719_z.jpg

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    End of the line - this is the edge of the shell crater
    5078906105_9daf334de9_z.jpg

    One female shoe - it couldn't be, could it? :eek:
    5079501076_be14a33341_z.jpg
    Thanks for taking the time to look.
     

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