Report - Alderstead Fort, Merstham - Surrey - December 2016

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I have a Fisheye problem
Regular User
Sep 21, 2014
I've had Alderstead Fort on my list to visit for sometime now, so when the chance came up I took it.
I've not seen any reports of here for a little while now, so it was hard to say what to expect, however from the pictures in 2009 I'd seen, it looks virtually the same.


"The 15 London mobilisation centres, constructed during the 1890s, formed part of a comprehensive military scheme known as the London Defence Positions, drawn up in 1888 to protect the capital in the event of enemy invasion. The scheme was a response to the rapid progress made in warship production by France and Russia during the early 1880s, which had led to official doubts about the Royal Navy's defence capability. Essentially a contingency plan, it provided for the establishment of a 72 mile long, entrenched stop-line divided into ten tactical sectors and supported by artillery batteries and redoubts. The planned stop-line ran from the southern edge of the Surrey and Kent Downs, up the western side of the Darenth Valley to the Thames, and then north westwards through Essex from Tilbury Fort to Epping. Although the stop-line and main defence positions were not to be established until an invasion was imminent, it was thought prudent to build a series of mobilisation centres, 13 on new sites, along the projected course, either for artillery deployment or where troops could assemble and collect tools and supplies. By 1905, official confidence in the Royal Navy had been restored, and the now obsolete mobilisation centres were abandoned and gradually sold off. No two mobilisation centres are exactly alike, and a broad distinction can be drawn between the four centres purpose built for artillery deployment, and eight which functioned as infantry positions. However, in general terms there are close similarities: each, for example, was typically enclosed by a rampart, ditch and spiked fence, containing a partly earth-sheltered, reinforced concrete and brick built magazine and stores. Beyond the main compound were associated buildings of a standard type, including a brick caretakers lodge and a large, barn-like tool store. Most mobilisation centres have been the subject of subsequent alteration and/or reuse. As a short-lived and rare monument type, all mobilisation centres with surviving remains sufficient to give a clear impression of their original form and function are considered to be nationally important.

Unusually for this type of monument, Alderstead Fort has remained largely free of alteration or renovation and, despite some natural decay and woodland regeneration, survives comparatively well. Architectural survey has shown that the monument retains evidence relating to the construction and use of mobilisation centres"

Here is the line of mobilisation centres across the country (Shown at Reigate Fort)


The Explore

I wasn't sure whether to go down the route of going in discrete or make myself known to the people who lived there and ask permission to take pictures. Having read a report from a few years ago about how the people that lived there were friendly and cool with people photographing the fort, I tried to find someone to speak to.

Having driven past the lane to the fort as part of my daily commute for 5 years, I'd seen that the gate was opened and closed quite often, so it was fair to assume that someone was living there.

I walking down the lane keeping eyes and ears peeled for signs of life. At the end of the track there was a clattered out looking Corsa parked next to a caravan. Alongside this was some washing hung up on a line. I called out to see if anyone was about. Nothing, no response. So again called out, and once again nothing.

Alright I thought? Guess there is no-one about, lets get on with it.

So I gingerly wandered down towards the fort, not seeing any signs of life on my way. I should note, the area is a total tip and has become a dumping ground for all kinds of crap.

There were a lot of rotting cars about, some as new as a 56 plate Kia. (I actually checked the reg with the DVLA Tax check website on my phone and it had been Sorned)

I recently bought myself some big waterproof boots as my trainers were not coping well with the wetter explores. Turns out this was a great investment as the woodland around the fort are a total bog.

The fort is in great condition considering its age. The internal parts and doors are impressively intact. Looks like its being used to store junk as most the Casemates are rammed full.

The Store at the back of the Fort is submerged under a foot or so of water, and not accessible without waders, so I couldn't get to see in any of the rooms.

Not a bad explore, overall. Glad to see the forts still well intact despite being used to store junk.














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