Report - - Day of the Dover - Various sites - October 2013 | Underground Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Day of the Dover - Various sites - October 2013


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Back in August at the London meet Altair and I put together a plan to satisfy his desire to see some of Dover. Of course the plan needed both of us to have a weekend free, so it wasn't until almost two months later that we were both available. In a somewhat predictable fashion I was out very late on Friday night, so secretly I was over-joyed when I got the text saying that they were late thanks to traffic. Soon enough we were on our way, and for the first time in months it would appear that I actually remembered everything ie tripod quick release, my remote etc. The aim of the game was to do as many sites as possible until Altair and his companion Rusty felt they had had enough. I wont bother with history for most places, although will be narrating. I've gone for three photos from each site, but there are lots more photos on ma blog (link in sig).

St Margaret's Deep Shelter/Z Rocket

A third visit here for me, and an easy way to start off the day. A jolly good thing that I took my rope in the end, as it was a bit wet on the way out. Someone had left approximately three and a half thousand tea lights in there, so I borrowed a few.



I started playing with the bulb setting on my camera, so the day became a learning experience for me as I started trying to get more creative with my lighting.


South Foreland Deep Shelter 1

After briefly nipping via St Margarets for some breakfast we drove over to the South Forelands complex to find the open deep shelter. Thanks to one particular piece of info from Maniac we found it straight away, and squeezed our way in. This one was smaller than I thought, and I only ended up taking three photos I think. We weren't too long in here, although Altair did manage to niggle his back on the way out. We would have had a look at Fan Bay too if it was still do-able.



Detached Bastion

At the London meet I got wind that this place was open, and should have got down to see it earlier really. It was one of the first places that I tried to get into when I first started exploring, but had annoyingly been sealed shortly before.


Some history from underground kent:
The North Centre and Detached Bastions are located between the Drop Redoubt and the Citadel on the Western Heights. Their purpose was to assist in defending the northern approaches to Dover, particularly from the Folkestone Road, along which it was envisaged Napoleon and the French Grand Army would attack.

Work on the North Centre Bastion began in 1804 as part of the main Western Heights works, although it was incomplete in 1815 when Napoleon was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo. In 1859 the Royal Commission which called for modification across the Western Heights reviewed the unfinished North Centre Bastion. Work began on its completion and the construction of the Detached Bastion and its caponier. They were armed throughout the main phase of occupation at the Western Heights, but along with the rest of the fortress, its decline was rapid and at the turn of the century its guns were removed. The bastions saw very little use after this time, with only local defence use during both World Wars.

The Army relinquished the Western Heights after the Second World War and the North Centre and Detached Bastions have remained empty and unused since. Despite the surrounding ditches becoming very overgrown, the bastions have been very vandalised.

The above photo took me almost five minutes to shoot (not counting the aborted attemts), but I'm quite happy with the way it came out. Not happy with the ten minutes that the camera took to process the damn thing! Shortly after that I caught up with the others who hid around a corner and naturally scared the shit out of me :D I should have got more of the place really, but I spent so long taking one photo I don't have too many decent ones. Excuse to go back etc...


Drop Redoubt (Permission visit)

After turning down North Entrance due to Altair's back I requested a quick check of St Martin's battery (another elusive site). On the walk there, I mentioned where Drop is located, and how I always seem to miss the open days. Low and behold we get around the corner and it's an open day, which explained the loud gun shot noises that we'd been hearing. Sure it was £4 to get in, and doesn't really count, and we had to constantly try to avoid getting people in the photos, but it was somewhere that I've wanted to see for some time, so was good to get it done, even if a lot of it was fenced off still. A moment of comedy came from one of the volunteers just inside the door who recognised what we were up to straight away - apparently the tripods, cameras, and being covered in chalky mud are a dead give-away. She was really interested, and had actually put a report on here that didn't last long, so we gave her some pointers and were on our way.


Some brief history:
The Drop Redoubt, a detached polygonal structure, is one of the earlier parts of the Western Heights defences. Through the years however, there have been many alterations and modifications including the addition of four caponniers. These powerful brick structures project into the ditch to provide carronade and musketry fire down each section of the surrounding dry ditch and are accessed via stairways from the surface of the Redoubt. Also on the surface are the remains of large casemates, which were the soldiers' quarters and smaller ones in a gorge close to the main entrance, which were for officers. Gun positions still remain on the terreplein, overlooking the town below. The original form of access to the Redoubt was via a drawbridge at the end of Drop Redoubt Road, but this has now been removed, leaving only a Sallyport in the ditch as the current means of access.


Soldier's Home Tunnels/Historex Tunnels

We felt that we were probably getting towards the end of our day here, and decided on one last site. I suggested D.o.E tunnels as I knew where the entrance was, so we parked up, and made our way down. Once inside I got confused, then realised I had the wrong set of tunnels in my mind - we were actually in Soldier's Home tunnels which have many various names. We didn't venture past the broken timber supports, which I regret now, but they did look dodgy.


I really liked the way that the tunnel bent, so spent most of my time messing around with bulb trying to make them look good.


The tunnels are now used for storage, and have various bits and pieces lying around in them. Oh, and more false widows according to Altair.


The Grand Shaft

On the way back to the car I suggested to the car I suggested to the guys that they have a quick look at the Shaft as we were parked 20 metres away. When we got there we were told that they were locking up, but after mentioning that we'd been at Drop the nice man let us in to take some photos. As I'd been before I only took one, and ended up chatting with the man for 15 minutes whilst Altair and Rusty ran up and down the triple stairs like loons.


So there we have it, the Day of Dover. Still so much to see down there, and places to revisit now as well. Thanks to Altair for driving, I think I was a more successful guide this weekend than the weekend before...

Thanks for reading




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