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Report - Esplanade Tunnels, Dover - Oct 2010


rebmeM LD82
Regular User
This elusive set of tunnels has been evading me ever since I started getting into this hobby about 3 years ago. I've seen pictures, I've missed out on opportunities to see them on more than one ocassion, and for at least the last 2 years I've been religiously checking and trying to find access into them. I'd almost given up, until a message from a certain person on Monday night changed all that!

Now for those outside of Kent, you might be wondering what all the fuss it about, after all to most it just looks like "another chalk tunnel" but this is something else entirely. Essentially Esplanade level is 3 seperate smaller tunnel systems linked by a long tunnel known as the guilford tunnel - this interlinking tunnel is 1600ft long and stretches for a fair distance along the inside of the famous cliffs.

The 3 sections of esplanade are known as the Trevanion caves, Chapel caves and Athol caves and they are all a bit different to each other, having been constructed at different times and used for different purposes. You can only get to 2 of the sections as the Chapel caves were sealed off from the Guilford tunnel at some point in the past.

Here's a plan fron English Heritage showing how far the tunnels extend inside the cliffs.


First, we went to the far end and had a nose at the Trevanion caves end of the tunnels. This was used as coal storage by the Dover gas company until the 1930's and as a result the chalk is quite black due to dust from the coal. Some areas of this are pretty large.

Stairway at the end of the guilford tunnel which leads down into the Trevanion caves area.


3. Some sections of it are lined



6. Lots of old tin bits and pieces all shoved in this alcove - there was quite a lot of bits like this, almost all of it is rusted to within an inch of its life.


Next the Guilford tunnel its self. This is a different thing to the more commonly known about guilford shaft which lies in the cliffline above esplanade level, but does not link with it. It is basically a long tunnel, not that interesting except it's had some serious support work done at some point in its history.



10. As you can see it's very long, and pretty straight. I walked about 1/4 of the way down in this shot, and pointed my torch back at the camera.

Then the Athol caves end of the complex, this is quite different to the other end, most of it is lined and it is more intricate with smaller tunnels and lots of junctions. I'm not sure what this was origenally used for.



13. Yes the stacked up wood is actually holding up the roof.



I now fully appreciate why a lot of people regard this as the best tunnel system in Dover, because it really is fantastic. It might only be another set of chalk tunnels, but it's all in great condition and different to a lot of the other tunnels in and around dover.

Thanks for looking,



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