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Report - - WT Henley (later AEI) Telegraph Works: Air Raid Shelter, Northfleet (December 2020) | Underground Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - WT Henley (later AEI) Telegraph Works: Air Raid Shelter, Northfleet (December 2020)


TheReturningCynic

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
With a good friend back on-leave, and as a result re-introducing himself in to my bubble, we both set out on Friday evening to give a semi-local location an explore: the WT Henley/AEI Cable Works air-raid shelter in Gravesend.

History
The WT Henley (later AEI) Telegraph Works site is situated on the bank of the River Thames at Northfleet. Built around 1906, the location saw heavy use during World War 2 when it made vital contributions towards projects such as Operation PLUTO. As a result, a shelter was built in to the nearby chalk-face of the old Rosherville Gardens - providing the capability to allow up to 2000 people to seek refuge during air-raids. This shelter possessed 6 entrances and boasted electric ventilation, toilet facilities, and a first aid post. WT Henley was acquired by AEI in 1959, who would go on to use the site until 2008 when it was closed - with AEI citing strong European competition as one of their reasons.

In November 2020 one local woman began protesting against development plans that threaten the legacy of both the Henley air raid shelter and nearby Rosherville Gardens.

Our Visit

With a few minutes of research the access point(s) to this site can be found relatively trivialy... what aerial photographs and old site-plans don't tell you though, is just how difficult it is to make the trek through a mixture of clay, mud, and excess rain water. We soon found ourselves inside though, but only after a few stumbles and some colourful language!



One of the really striking things about this site is the quality of the stencilled signage - it's superb considering it's likely been on the walls for 80 years at this point.





There was a lot of graffiti present - more so than I think I've seen in previous reports, even ones as recent as 2018. Although the site is easily accessible, I was surprised that many people would be willing to make the required trek through clay and mud, just to spray on a wall that hardly anyone will actually see... still, each to their own. :rolleyes:





With the distinct smell of oil and diesel, we soon found ourselves in what was presumably the plant room - powering the ventilation for the shelter.





After leaving my pal to his own devices whilst I had a mooch about the place, I returned to discover he'd been getting his creativity flowing with some tea-lights.



Final Thoughts
I wouldn't want to do this place a disservice by saying "all the tunnels looked the same, bar the plant room" - because whilst it's true, it doesn't actually reflect how enjoyable a wander the place was. What was intended as a flying visit whilst we were en route elsewhere actually turned out to be two hours well spent - and a relaxing two hours at that.

…and of course, if you didn’t take a cheesy silhouette photo - did you even go there?




 

Wevsky

A Predisposed Tourist
Regular User
It really is a shame to see how much this place has been destroyed over the years, but it still is a nice sized set of tunnels, you can avoid the mud but it involves a bit more effort getting down at times
 

TheReturningCynic

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
It really is a shame to see how much this place has been destroyed over the years, but it still is a nice sized set of tunnels, you can avoid the mud but it involves a bit more effort getting down at times
... I think I've already clocked the other route you've mentioned, and I'm kicking myself that it hadn't occured to me. :rolleyes: (I'm guessing it involves another little sight to see, that would be worth a few shots in itself!)

It's definitely an odd location though; there were bits that were almost pristine - then you'd turn a corner and it was covered in graffiti. Looking at previous reports it's definitely on a decline. I had low expectations if I'm entirely honest, but genuinely found it a surprisingly nice explore!
 

Wevsky

A Predisposed Tourist
Regular User
... I think I've already clocked the other route you've mentioned, and I'm kicking myself that it hadn't occured to me. :rolleyes: (I'm guessing it involves another little sight to see, that would be worth a few shots in itself!)

It's definitely an odd location though; there were bits that were almost pristine - then you'd turn a corner and it was covered in graffiti. Looking at previous reports it's definitely on a decline. I had low expectations if I'm entirely honest, but genuinely found it a surprisingly nice explore!
The other route , sounds like you are getting where im on about.
The location itself is still worth a wander if it is new to you , and if im honest ive been twice, 2011 and 2015 and was a lot cleaner, it is a shame to see the graff i must admit
 

Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
Past here today, the housing estate is huge now. The grass field & mud gone. Doors on the openings, looks like more houses will go up in front of them. Felt very odd and quite sad to see all these new builds.
 

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