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Report - - Fort Pitt Chatham, Magazines, Passages and Guardhouse Remains - September 2020 | Military Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Fort Pitt Chatham, Magazines, Passages and Guardhouse Remains - September 2020


Kidney

Weirdy Beardy
28DL Full Member
Brief History

Fort Pitt began its life as a military hospital in 1803 but was fortified a couple of years later due to its strategic significance and was armed to the teeth (ten 18-pound cannons, 22 18-pound carronades and four 10-pound mortars). The layout was red-brick walls with a bastion on each corner and a 15ft deep defensive ditch. The original fort included a number of buildings now demolished, including a central tower, or keep, removed in 1910 to provide more hospital space; a large blockhouse designed to house 500 men;[5] and two outlying towers, one on each flank, named 'Delce' and 'Gibraltar' (both long since demolished). Connecting tunnel for Delce still exist but has now been converted into a poo tunnel. Gibraltar status is currently unknown but I’m up for an exploratory dig!

With the end of the Napoleonic wars it reverted to a hospital in 1828 for invalid soldiers and eventually became the home of the first army medical school run by Florence Nightingale in 1860 with the addition of an asylum. It served as a garrison hospital during WW1 and also housed 70+ injured German prisoners of war before finally closing in 1919.
The fort was partially demolished in the 1930s to allow the building of a girl’s technical school and to keep locals employed. During WW2 the underground features were adapted and modified to provide shelter for the occupants of the school. The school occupies the site to this day with a mixture of the original fort buildings and newer additions. The University for the Creative Arts building occupies the site of the blockhouse. Much of the outer defences survive to this day and from the air the original footprint of the fort can be made out. Good fun with a sled in the winter when it’s been snowing!!!!

Sadly only part of the known underground features survive, comprising of a twin magazine, lighting passage and connecting corridors. Much of which have been butchered and infilled. The remains of the guard house adjacent to the original blockhouse survive also. Within the surviving tunnels evidence of its use during the world wars is evident with features such as safety railings, gas tight doors, blast walls and ceiling reinforcements.

The Explore

Since KURG’s visit in 2011; this is one location that’s eluded most or just been forgotten about. For anyone local to the area it’s been on the “to-do” list for many years…..even regarded by some as one of those “holy grail” locations we all long to see.
Over the years, talk of Fort Pitt’s cropped up many times, the odd photo of the original KURG entry on social media, many comments on how easy this would be to open up, grandiose schemes put forward….many of which defied the laws of physics. But for some reason no one has ever to my knowledge put serious effort into it (barring a couple of members here kindly opening up the remains of the guard house next to the blockhouse former location). Can only presume the location of the former access point and numerous CCTV cameras covering the area put many off, including myself.

This explore started by meeting a small team of enthusiastic lads at another explore. From there a WhatsApp group emerged; information already covered many times was shared/discussed over many evenings including how we could possibly pull this one off. From general chit chat a plan was devised that I must admit I didn’t have full confidence in. How wrong can someone be?

Fast forward to a late summer evening, one of the group opened up his company’s office for us to gather and talk out the finer points over a ‘few’ beers armed with enough tools to run a DIY store for a week whilst waiting for the right time to hit it without drawing attention. The original plan was to leave most of our kit in the office and split into two teams. One 'doing the work' whilst the other looked out and then swapping over, when it was open we would head back, drop off the tools and pick up our cameras. This is where things went a bit off plan due to the fact most of us had got there early or come via the pub and were three sheets to the wind by the time the plan was good to go.

Just before we got to the location we planned our attempted escape route should things go wrong, we were already confident that we wouldn't be instantly caught out from a couple of lads scoping out the place a few days before. Regardless of this we came to the conclusion that the original KURG method wasn’t viable and an alternate method was devised.
Expecting to be in this for the long haul we were surprised how quickly we managed to gain entry and after a solid team effort including a very tight squeeze we were all inside celebrating over yet another beer.

This is what exploring is all about, not YouTube, likes, egos or big red arrows; but a group of like-minded individuals, drinking too much beer, digging holes and trying not to either get arrested or spending a week on the sofa because you rocked up home hobo drunk at 5am.

Knew this wasn’t going to be the largest or most interesting explore because the original fort had long been demolished and subterranean parts partially backfilled. Any artefacts were limited to either stuff chucked down as backfill or rubbish from visits from bygone years. Nevertheless there was enough to capture our interest and take some long overdue pictures which I will share with you now.

Thanks to Kent Urban Explorers with their help on this. Shit group name, good bunch of lads ;)



01_Post.jpg


Blast walls added during WW2 when the tunnels were repurposed as a shelter for the school

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Remains of gas tight door, another later addition

03_Post.jpg


Connecting tunnels, cant recall if the slits lead into the lighting passage.

04_Post.jpg


One half of the main magazine with backfill and rubbish from when part of the fort was demolished.

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Another view of half the magazines, here you can see the modifications undertaken in WW2 to strengthen the roof.

06_Post.jpg


Other side of magazine, wanted to show this one as you can see the windows here into the lighting passage. This was an early attempt to prevent flame and spark, long before ATEX.

08_Post.jpg


Main tunnel leading to main magazines, you can see the WW2 modifications here including the railing added to prevent falls.

07_Post.jpg


Main tunnel leading up to gas tight door. As you can see, not much remains apart from a couple of handy buckets to take a piss in.

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I like this one, remains of original doorway leading up to former entrance, not how the floor is ribbed to prevent slippage. Most likely where the ammunition carts were loaded down into the magazines.

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You can see here what once was, this is part of the main tunnel. Completely butchered and back filled with the contents of the fort block house, including smashed porcelain sinks.

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Lighting passage, magazines on the right. You have to climb through these to access the magazines.

10_Post.jpg


Gas tight door on the left, WW2 modified door on the right. Looking at the fire place it would almost appear the floor has been raised at some point?

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The window here would have originally looked out towards the blockhouse.
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Last one to show the extend of the infill. Quite sad really but i guess life moves on.

Finally a few pictures of the remains of the guard house. This was a small outpost opposite the west elevation of the blockhouse (where the Uni sits now), it would have connected to the block house by a tunnel under the ditch accessed by a small set of spiral stairs.

Fort Pitt Guardhouse (1).jpg


Tunnel connecting guardhouse to blockhouse.

Fort Pitt Guardhouse (4).jpg


Roof above small spiral staircase

Fort Pitt Guardhouse (3).jpg


Tunnel connecting guardhouse to blockhouse.

Thanks for making it this far, hope you enjoyed.
 

Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
Another team effort of incredible determination. As you said, Fort Pitt isnt mentioned often, and its sad some is gone. But hell what a good job you all did with this dig. Be proud, great photos & light. Enjoyed the read immensely. Hope I get to see these one day. :thumb
 

Gaggle of gays

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Awesome pics me and my partner found a small hole by the college a few weeks back after squeezing down it we found a chamber with staircase curving under it unfortunately the passage was filled with lose bricks and rubble so we couldn't go any further
 

Kidney

Weirdy Beardy
28DL Full Member
Another team effort of incredible determination. As you said, Fort Pitt isnt mentioned often, and its sad some is gone. But hell what a good job you all did with this dig. Be proud, great photos & light. Enjoyed the read immensely. Hope I get to see these one day. :thumb
Thanks, comments truly appreciated. Was surprised the photo's came out the way they did, was well and truly banjo'd by the time we walked off to a waiting Uber at 4am :D
Seen your username pop up quite frequently, are you Medway based also?

Awesome pics me and my partner found a small hole by the college a few weeks back after squeezing down it we found a chamber with staircase curving under it unfortunately the passage was filled with lose bricks and rubble so we couldn't go any further
Yup you found the guardhouse in the last three pics. Been open for a few years now. It doesn't go anywhere as the Uni now sits on the land it once connected too.
 

Gaggle of gays

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Thanks, comments truly appreciated. Was surprised the photo's came out the way they did, was well and truly banjo'd by the time we walked off to a waiting Uber at 4am :D
Seen your username pop up quite frequently, are you Medway based also?



Yup you found the guardhouse in the last three pics. Been open for a few years now. It doesn't go anywhere as the Uni now sits on the land it once connected too.
Yea we have had a look round the area but cant seem to find a good map of the tunnels so we dont realy know wer to look
 

Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
Thanks, comments truly appreciated. Was surprised the photo's came out the way they did, was well and truly banjo'd by the time we walked off to a waiting Uber at 4am :D
Seen your username pop up quite frequently, are you Medway based also?



Yup you found the guardhouse in the last three pics. Been open for a few years now. It doesn't go anywhere as the Uni now sits on the land it once connected too.
Not Medway but only 30 mins from it. Dartford:D
 

Prism

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Amazing Explore, great report. Thoroughly educative and interesting read.
 

Kidney

Weirdy Beardy
28DL Full Member
Yea we have had a look round the area but cant seem to find a good map of the tunnels so we dont realy know wer to look
Probably a good thing too seeing as you like scrawling your username in big letters on the walls. ;) It's not a walk in though, you need to put some work into this one.

Amazing Explore, great report. Thoroughly educative and interesting read.
Thanks dude, really appreciated :D

Compared to Dartford with its traffic & crime, Medway has its appeal :D
Seeing the amount of laughing gas bottles chucked around car parks in Dartford i reckon you could start up a recycling youth project to get the kids away from petty crime :p
 

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