Report - - Shorts Brothers Seaplane factory & Public Air raid shelters, Jan2010 | Underground Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Shorts Brothers Seaplane factory & Public Air raid shelters, Jan2010


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
In 1941 the Shorts Brothers requested to expand their existing factory on the banks of the river medway, they wanted to expand into a tunnel network within the soft chalky cliffs.
They intially consisted of 2 large section tunnels, brick lined about a 100m into the cliff face, and were later added to. there was also an UBER sized public air raid shelter added to the far end of the factory, I guess from the end of the factory to the far end of the public shelters MUST be over a 1,000m, and 2 or 3 small section (3m?) tunnels across, linked by loads of crosscuts & ventalation shafts.
The factory is unusually free of graffetti and burnouts, though there have been some *recently! Theres also plenty of paperwork (some charred :( ) and photographs, drawings, microfiche, wooden patterns and air raid shelter trinkets lying around the place.

Explored on my own, on a night after nearly drowning in mud trying to do something else (without a paddle either), whilst on my london 'get over it' trip. I managed to whiz around in just over 3hrs and think I covered every tunnel & junction, and flicked through every artifact in the place, the intention was to sleep down here, but it was too drafty, and no nice cubby holes to get in, so resorted to sleeping in the car, on a Kent estate :/

Ok, first batch of photos are shot on 35mm film, details of what I used is on my flickr.


Surveyed and drawn by Kent Underground Research Group 23.3.1990
theres a map for you, factory on the right, long drag down the middle, and public shelters on the left, the long straight bit of the drag is 400m, so you can scale it from that.


One of the entrances into the factory section


DrainOR out of the fresh... but not far from it ;)


A complex intersection, this is near the western end of the shelters. It was a bit of a mission to light this one up in just 30seconds.


TUNNEL FUNK - This came out 750x better on film that it did on digi. The use of a non-tesco's tesco defo helped.


Pile'o'stuff - what can I say, it was a GIANT pile of fun stuff to play with :D (view it large.... http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4022/4376435759_d8c3e4ba55_b.jpg)


Wooden pattern wheels. There was plenty of these patterns knocking about, some were fairly intricat, though I suspect the best ones have vanished already...
(view it large... http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4010/4376386659_754c1e75e8_b.jpg)


Making my way out to my bed/car/home from home (from now on is Digi)


mmmm toilets. They were a bit stinky, but incredibly 1940's style and in pretty amazing condition considering the age! I think the factory was abandoned in th late 1970's. so nearly 40years!


Documents, including correspondense with the Kuwait airforce!


Huge pile of wooden pattern parts. I can imagine some aircraft enthusiast somewhere needs one of these to make a new part. They have stayed in great condition due to the chalk that the cliffs are made of, keeping these tunnels in a pretty dry & low humidity. Otherwise this stuff would have rotted away within just a few years of becoming abandoned.


Tool store & Workshops, far western end of the factory.


microfiche showing the assembly of what appears to be bicycle handlebars!


Dweebs paradise!


Intersection between the two parrellel sets of factory tunnels, there is a large ventalation plant just around the corner from here.


Same as TUNNEL FUNK - but taken in digital. Its a technically better photo, more detail, sharper, more evenly lit. BUT the film one is just way more dramatic :)


passageway to upper level exits at the eastern end of the shelter. Its a steep gradient up to the surface, probably around 33%


I'm just including this one for reference against the film shot, not sure which I prefer.




And I'll finish on probably the most complex intersection, loads of differnt tunnels and angles occuring here. Lighting it up was a bit of a mish, can't wait to get back down into some drains and shoot some film, I checked the dates on photos the other day, its been over 18months since I was last in a drain (and took a photo).

Anyway, really enjoyed my quick blast around Shorts Tunnels, I think I got some good photos there, though I didn't take many more than what you see above.
If you want bigger versions (ALL the film ones look a LOT better when viewed large) go on my flickR....


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
the torch is actually from 'field and trek' now defunct I think. it runs off 3c cells, and has a 3w luxeon emitter and a good reeflector, its also got controllable power and submerisble to probably 5m, had it a few years and shes serviced me well.


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
yeah, well I'm a white water kayaking instructor and spend a lot of time in the sea, i also live on one of the worlds fastest moving/highest tidal ranges/ firths, and I know how quickly dangerous they can be, so I left it till the conditions were more ideal as I didn't really fancy dieing a muddy/ drowny death.

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