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Report - Shorts Tunnels, Rochester, 01/10

Links_rover

WINDOW FAT
28DL Full Member
#1
How they got there:
On 23rd September 1941 Shorts Brothers contacted the Ministry of Aircraft Production regarding their seaplane works at Rochester seeking authority to build a new underground works in tunnels excavated under chalk cliffs behind their existing MAP extension factory on the south bank of the River Medway. Space was urgently required for 75 new machine tools as their works were full to capacity. The tunnels were intended to create 12,000 square feet of workshop space at a cost of £20,000 which, it was acknowledged was somewhat higher than a new surface building but stress was lid upon the vulnerability of the Medway estuary.

History
At the eastern end of the tunnels the company built an extensive network of air raid shelter tunnels again consisting of two parallel drives running parallel with the cliff face, each was three hundred yards in length connected by 14 crosscuts. These were connected to the Shorts Factory tunnels by a single tunnel 400 metres in length and by 9 adits of varying lengths out to the cliff face. There were three vertical ventilation shafts to the surface which were also fitted with ladders for emergency escape.

At the Southern end of the 'factory tunnel' is a plant room but all that is left is a concrete engine bed, two more steel doors and a angled ventilation shaft. The 'factory tunnel' itself is largely empty apart from some brick shelving in the middle and a number of old filing cabinets. After 20 metres the wide 'factory tunnel' narrows to 2 metres wide and 2 metres high with brick walls and a curved corrugated roof. Most of the shelter tunnels are of these dimensions. Oftern their are dog legs with an adit out to the cliff face . Many brick walls has been built across the tunnel with a substantial metal plates bolted to the brickwork. In every instance the brick wall has been breached and the plate pushed out of the way allowing access to the rest of the tunnel network. At 50 metre intervals along all the shelter tunnels there are recesses (alternating between left and right side) consisting of a 4 metre length of tunnel parallel to the main tunnel. These are male and female toilets. There is a sign at each doorway indicating whether it was a female or male. There are also 'No smoking' signs at regular intervals on the walls, these also date from the war. There are the remains of wooden bench seats along the walls. All shelter exit adits are indicated by a sign and arrow on the wall indicating which number exit each is. There are small niche's cut into the wall at regular intervals for first aid kits and many of them have a sign indicating 'first aid kit'.

Here are my pics...


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