Castles, Fortresses & Associated Works => Medway => Topic started by: merc on November 17, 2008, 11:43:46

Title: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: merc on November 17, 2008, 11:43:46
The fort was built in the late 19th century as one of the forts that defended the landward aproach to Chatham Dockyard. It protected the approach from Maidstone and the flank of Fort Borstal.

It was polygonal in shape and had a deep dry ditch around it. The entrance was via a roller bridge and either side of the entrance gate were machine gun loops, which was the first appearance of this feature at Chatham. Above the entrance was a crown and VR with the year 1884, which may be the year work continued on the fort after construction had been suspended for a while.

The fort was first started in about 1879 by convict labour, but due to lack of money and enthusiasm for building the forts, work stopped and it wasn't until 1892 that fort Bridgewoods was completed.

The ditch around the fort was partly constructed with flint rather than the usual concrete. It was originally to have three Counterscarp galleries defending the ditch but only two were built,leaving the rear area of the forts ditch undefended. One of the Counterscarp galleries has a sally port in giving access to the ditch, during the 1907 Siege Operations, which this fort took part in, this gallery was extensively damaged.

Inside the fort to the left of the entrance were accomodation Casemates for the garrison. Off these Casemates were short tunnels which led to the Magazines and Reservoirs. Expanse Magazines and Gun Emplacements were built but no fixed Gun Emplacements was provided. An external earthen wing Battery was also built in the later 19th century to give extra mobile fire power.

Pror to WWII the fort became "Y" Station,gathering signals inteligence for the war office and during the war activities were greatly increased and a hutted encampment was built in the woods adjacent to the fort, and also other buildings were built inside the fort. The fort dissapeared from local maps right up until the 1970's. Later in the war the station moved and the fort was occupied by 33 Kent Batalion (Shorts Brothers) Home Guard who manned a number of light AA guns.

In 1953 a large fallout proof Bunker was built in the fort,it had 2 floors and was partly below ground. It was for an Anti Aircraft Operations Room (AAOR) for the Thames and Medway South fixed AA guns sites. It remained operational untill 1957. The AAOR would of co-ordinated all AA activity from Dartford to Sittingbourne and the Thames Estuary.

In 1960 the fort and bunker were handed over to the Home Office who made it into a Sub Regional Control Centre for the administration of South East London after a Nuclear attack. Fort Bridgewoods was known as SRC 5.2. This lasted untill 1967 when the system was rationalised.

The fort was then sold to a builder and in the late 1970's the ditch was partly filled in. In 1982 a serious fire gutted the AAOR. Then in 1988 despite the fort being listed as a building of historic interest it was completely demolished and a Post Office parcels depot was built on the site.

Today there may be remains of the wing Battery left and the site of the hutted encampment can be traced nearby.

 
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: david on December 07, 2008, 10:48:17
This one was taken by the late Peter Cobb.

(http://i379.photobucket.com/albums/oo234/palmerstonforts/chatham/bridgewoods.jpg)

A Rare Find has a better one on his website, http://southeast-defencephotos.com/

Edit: Moved the picture to Photobucket
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: david on February 08, 2009, 17:34:18
This is a plan, which I have just completed, based on the RE Library plan Ref4200/SE/2/2400 & 2401.
(http://i379.photobucket.com/albums/oo234/palmerstonforts/chatham/bridgewoods2.jpg)

(Just corrected an error to the labelling)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: otis on July 17, 2009, 19:16:15
Thanks Davids Mate  :)

I keep meaning to have a look around the site to see if i can see any possible rermains.

My understanding is that this one has gone. Ploughed under an industrial park. Just looked on Google Map satelite view and can see nothing of it, though Ft Horsted and Ft Borstal can be seen.

When I visited the place 25 years ago it was already partly gone. The main path through the woods then cut across the partly filled in ditch. Much of the Northern side must have gone. If you turned left down the gradually sloping ditch infill, you came to a doorway in the ditch wall opposite, where the rest of the ditch turned right. The steeply slopping steps down here took you back to the right underground, and then climbed into the main sheltered area of the fort. I recall much evidence there of WWII AA batteries and some small buildings and a view across the country south towards the airfield. There must have been some inscriptions here, because I clearly recall making the connection with AA fire command.

Sticking out like a sore thumb in the middle of what would have been the parade ground, was a large concrete bunker on the surface, the size of several bungalows. It was around here that we would often be "discovered" by some kind of groundsman, who would get us to clear off.

I don't recall ever going through fences or passing any kind of security signs to get there. I remember thinking that this must be some kind of secret military bunker. So secret that it had no "Keep out" signs to attra
ct attention, and needed plain clothes security.

I now understand this would have been some kind of Council Cold War bunker, to count the dead when the "bomb" dropped.

I will try and confirm the whole AA thing.

  regards Otis
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: otis on July 17, 2009, 19:30:25
OMG !

Just searched Ft Bridgewood on the web and found the following link to a Royal British Legion site.

http://www.garatshay.org.uk/newsletters/newsletterspring07.htm

I have copied the relevent bit here.

Quote
I am a member of the Medway Amateur Receiving and Transmitting Society [and an Ex RN Communicator]. I am a former Royal Navy Communicator and hold the Amateur Call G4HJE.Myself and several other members of the radio society have started to research the wireless interception station that was established at Fort Bridgewoods Chatham in about 1926 and remained an important part of the interception network until early 1941. A number of us have a keen interest in the work carried out by the various parts of the Intercept Organisation and of course having had a site on your doorstep [demolished in the mid 1970s] makes it all the more interesting.  We do know that a number of our wartime members served as VIs including a former President of the Society Bill Nutton G6NU.

We have managed to find a very limited amount of information about the importance of Fort Bridgewood including the important part that operators there played in intercepting Enigma traffic between 1939 and early 1941. Fort Bridgewood, unlike the others in the Medway defences remained shrouded in mystery as post WW2 it was used as a nuclear bunker for regional government so officially did not exist

I know that it was commanded by a Colonel M J W Ellingworth, who was in fact a retired RN Lt Cdr and who had been one of the youngest CPO Telegraphists in the fleet.

 I have been in contact with Lt Col Sandy Le Gassik MBE Royal Signals who in early 1939 trained at Fort Bridgewoods [Chatham Intercept Station] as an Experimental Wireless Assistant and who retired from the Royal Signals in 1980.  The reason for my interest is that he provided an article to the BBC on 18 November 2005 about his experiences as a young man at war.  Part of the experience described was being recruited as an Experimental Wireless Assistant at Fort Bridgewood .

I have been able to establish that local school boys [of about 17 years] were recruited by a member of Bridgewoods staff and trained to receive morse at 22 words per minute.  Also that many of the female staff were recruited from Sharps toffee factory in Maidstone.

 I have established from the Bletchley Park website that Chatham played an important part in the initial interception of GAF Enigma traffic and played a key role in the early breaks by providing quality intercepts.I know that Bridgewoods was bombed in October 1940 and that a number of personnel were killed. I have also established that the site had two masts from which a number of HF long wires were strung, also that the intercept bays were located in the deep magazines.I have identified that Ellingworth was associated with E K Cole, the owner of EKCO radio company and that some of the early intercept radios were produced or modified by his company.


We all now know what part Bletchley paid in helping us win the war. What a shame such an important site has now gone.  :(

  regards Otis
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: AlanH on September 20, 2009, 10:28:28
I can't add anything historical at all to this but just a bit of general chat from what I know as a youngster growing up in Cookham Wood just down the road from the fort.
There was caretaker (can't remember his name) there for some years who walked around with his dog several times during each day and evening as walkers, young lovers etc., used to sit at the back of the fort and look out over Nashenden Valley to the woods before and after the M2 was built in about 1961 - 62 (Myself and a mate plus my younger brother were witnesses to the first M2 road accident death from that position) and he seemed to take much delight in telling us we were on WD land and to clear off!
His dogs were wonderfully well trained but his Bull Terrier badly let him down when it got into a fight with a Golden Retreiver on Nashenden Lane and killed it.
He had it put down soon after and bought a German Shepherd which wouldn't put a foot out of place without his OK.
Myself and others often put down rabbit snares along the edge of the moat and went shooting pigeons there when he wasn't about and my father in law had the shooting rights over the land controlled by the Borstal Insitute.
Sorry about the ramblings but these things bring back so many memories.
Alan.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: STEVEG4HJE on November 17, 2009, 22:19:31
Over the past two years I have conducted detailed research of he War Office Y station that was based at Fort Bridgewoods from 1926 until it moved in March 1941 to Chicksands and thereafter Beaumanor. From January 1935 the station was commanded by Lt Cdr MJW Ellingworth RN Rtd.  The station was the first to intercept German wireless traffic in the high grade enigma code and went on to be the main stay of providing intercepted material for the code breakers at Bletchely Park. Interception work at Fort Bridgewoods can also be linked directly with the work undertaken by Prof R V Jones and his battle of the beams.  Bridgewoods was taking German Air Force traffic from the experimental unit that was working on the beam stations and thereafter from the beam station organisation.  Breaks of enigma at Bletchley park allowed Prof Bimbo Norman in hut 3 to alert Jones to vital messages that allowed him to break the beams as Churchill put it.  Post March 1941 Fort Bridgwoods was used as a training station for Experimental Wireless Assistants, many local school boys who were recruited for secret work.  Ellingworth was assisted in this task by the Rev Donald Brand, who acted as 'tallent scout' and provided accommodation for recruits.  Ellingworth also maintained an intercept capability at Bridgewoods after 1941 in order to ensure that weak signals not capable of interception at Beaumanor could be intercepted and not lost.  The chief instructor was Albert Stevens, a retired RN CPO Telegraphist.  If any one has any photographs of Fort Bridgewoods from any period or any information about the fort during this period I would be pleased to hear from you.  If you are a former EWA, my work to date has been kindly prefaced by Lt Col 'Sandy' LeGassick Royal Signals who was one of the schoolboys trained at Bridgewoods who went on for the long haul at Beaumanor.  I would be particularly interested if anyone has any information about the firgurehead of Cornwallis that Ellingworth placed at the intersection of the main entrance tunnel which led to the two court yards.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: STEVEG4HJE on December 29, 2009, 15:07:02
Thank you to everyone who has responded to my posting.  I had noticed the three element HF beam but was not aware of the owner.  Now that I know that it is G0XJB of UK Vending I will make a point of trying to make contact [I wonder if he has an e-mail address].  It is said that part of the courterscarp may still be visible on the M2 side of the old forts footprint.  It is criminal that the fort, which of course was a listed building, was allowed to be destroyed without so much as a wimper.
I am not aware of a Y station at Folkestone, however, all three services operated Y stations and further stations were operated by Radio Amateurs who acted as Voluntary Incerceptors of VIs and reported to MI8.
Bridgewoods played a pivotal part in the intial Enigma breaks as the quality of the interception was so good.  Indeed some of the code breakers wrote to Churchill when they found that Bridgewoods was to be closed and the service moved.  The move was perhaps precipitated by a bombing incident in October 1940 when a stray oil bomb made a direct hit on the bridge over the moat where several vehicles were parked at the change over of the shift.  Several people were killed, including 3 ATS teleprinter operators.  A Sub Lieutenant Connely RNVR dived for cover under one of the vehicles and chose the one that was not directly hit!  Sidney Wort, latter Major Wort, and 2 I/C to Lt Cdr Ellingworth RN had to attend the mortuary the following day and indentify the bodies.
I noticed that some of the phtographs are posted by David and I wonder if this is the gentlemen who has a interest at Fort Amhurst and works at BAE systems.  If it is, I understand from a good friend that you have a collection of Bridgewoods photos taken in the late 1960s on 35mm slides.  I would be really interested to see them if that is at all possible.  I note that the friend of David posted a photograph that is copyright to Victor Smith.  I have been provided with a number of photos by Victor who very kindly allowed me to use them in my work. I have recently identified another former operator who worked agt Bridgwoods and hope to meet with him in the new year.  I note that  several of the people commenting on this site are radio amateurs, during my search for material on Bridgewoods I have always kept my eye open for Amatuers amongst the operators.  Ken Cook, G2KK joined the Briegwoods staff prior to the outbreak of war.  Ellingworths eldest daughter married Hugh Beaumont G6HB who was also involved in interception work.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: STEVEG4HJE on December 29, 2009, 15:18:10
sorry missed this off my last post.  I found the site by doing a Google search of Fort Bridgewoods.  I recognised my posting from the Garrats Hay Y RBL web site.  The web master had very kindly hosted my enquiry at the early stages of my research.  It opened lots of doors!

Steve
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: david on December 30, 2009, 10:01:25
I noticed that some of the phtographs are posted by David and I wonder if this is the gentlemen who has a interest at Fort Amhurst and works at BAE systems.  If it is, I understand from a good friend that you have a collection of Bridgewoods photos taken in the late 1960s on 35mm slides.  I would be really interested to see them if that is at all possible.

No, sorry that is not me, but yes I have an interest in all forts, and  I would also be very interested in seeing the photographs as I have seached, for many years, for other photographs of Bridgewoods, without sucess. (You will find me by following the link to my PFS website under my avatar.)

Quote
I note that the friend of David posted a photograph that is copyright to Victor Smith.

Yes, Victor is well known to me (and my friend).

Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: david on December 30, 2009, 10:10:38
The photograph that I posted was one taken by the late Peter Cobb, a very good friend of mine and well known to anyone amongst the 'fort hunting' fraternity. A true eccentric there was probably no fort in England that he had not visted at least once. He was apt to produce rambling fort reports that contained a wealth of information in an over-verbose manner. His photographs however were often hilariously poor.
Here is his Fort Report of Bridgewoods - verbatim.

Fort Bridgewoods
This Fort was also ordered by the 1859/60 Royal Commission but was not built until the  1880?s and 90's on the same ridge overlooking the Medway as Fort Borstal which is to the north.It was constructed on the crest of the hill, To its east is Fort Horstead. There is a plateau of triangular shape across the B2097 road immediately east of the Fort on which was laid out Rochester Airport and a major  Aircraft  Manufacturing  Factory built in stages 1911 to  1939. The height of the Hill or Ridge  is about 330ft at this point.
   The Fort was demolished in the early 1990s and the site is now an industrial estate. However parts of its outworks can still be seen. The Fort once stood at TQ, 738/652.

   Brief description of the demolished fort.:-
The Fort was five sided, yet again it was not a pentagon as it had the usual longest side at its gorge which was on the northern faced and was aligned  exactly west to east and had the entrance gate and rolling drawbridge in almost the centre of this face, on the east that side of the fort was formed by an acute angle and this was formed with a deep ditch for about 300ft until the ditch turned obliquely south-west for another 300 ft or so, until the west side was met which was only 70 ft in length followed by (originally) the longer west wall which once continued until it rejoined the North Gorge wall, however as a result of the 1907 Siege Trials which demolished both the counterscarp gallery and part of the inner wall, there was a modification made so that the west wall was truncated and a short ,circa 50 ft long, side wall was added here so that the west wall joined the North one at a right angle.The fort ,until 1907 had three counterscarp galleries of identical type to those at Fort Borstal, ie concrete, and with 2 fighting levels reached by a common tunnel.. The Ditch was concrete lined throughout. At the turn in the south-east corner there was a double counterscarp gallery, facing both north and south-west , then there was an other at the join of the short to the long west ditch, the third was close to the (then) end of the gorge (north) ditch and flanked both the gorge itself and the longer arm of the west ditch.
   INTERNAL FEATURES.
      These comprised the entry gateway which was more traditionally designed in that the Rolling bridge could retract inwards and under the  double armoured door which was in turn housed in a concrete arched entrance tunnel flanked on both east and west by fighting chambers for Gatling guns. The Fort's name was painted over the arch, in white lettering on a block background. This entry tunnel widen out to be a main through tunnel come Parados with cross passages off to the east and west for access to the twin parades . in an arc on the southern side of the fort were  expense magazines and the positions(never in fact used) for the expected armament. The main Magazine  and the accommodation casemates were in well protected earthen mounds.
An unusual feature of Fort Bridgewoods was its function, and hence its additional buildings post the 1939-45 war as  in the 1950's it was selected to replace Fort Luton as the AA Headquarters for the Thames and Medway area, and so a two storied  "Bunker"  of reinforced concrete was excavated in and hence built into the east Parade so that the basement was entirely below (local) ground level and the upper segment was capped of by a roof 10ft thick and it had walls of 8ft in thickness. It was defined as the AAOR (Anti-Aircraft Operations Room), however with the abandonment of "Operation Rotor"  in 1956/7 , its role was altered and its functional ownership passed to the Home Office  to be come a "Regional Seat Of Government" ,when it was further adapted  l958/9 . It was finally abandoned in the mid l980's .Three other smaller structures were built of reinforced concrete on the West Parade , a Generator Building, Store and  "protected Fuel Store" respectively. The fort was sold in the late 1980's and the (then) owner began gradual clearance of the top of the fort . This continued once the fort was sold on again as real estate with planning permission for industry.
   The sections of out works refereed to above  (page 9) relate to those both Northwest  and due East of the Fort.
   Northwest outworks. This is the remains off the construction light railway converted into a "rampart" for infantry to flank the fort along the ridge northward to wards Fort Borstal, terminating in a "Wing Battery" formed for 6 guns ,and though this is not certain, possibly dating from modification s put in place by the ?defenders? during the Trials  in the early years of the 20th century . This is found at 736/655.
Because the exploding and destruction of the corner counterscarp Gallery and the subsequent modification to the Northwest angle of Fort Bridgewoods , this segment was considered vulnerable and circa 1915 a 3 acre outwork , locally known as the "Howitzer Battery" was added abutting directly onto the ditch at this corner. Parts of this platform    or battery can still be traced in the bushes overlooking the cutting  for the M2 Motorway 737/653.
   To the East the Constructors  Railway continued in the direction of  Fort Horsted  and as it formed the Northern Boundary of the Rochester Airport which had a large Aircraft Construction Factory in during WW2 , the embankment was in its turn  again converted into an Infantry Breastwork and manned as required by the local Home Guard Company 1940 to '43. Traces of this former Railway and Breastwork can still be seen as linear low earthen banks along the north side of the feeder road past  the factories of the Airport Industrial Estate .

   Sources. Field study visits  1976 and 1982.
   Gillingham Library, Local History Department,  maps and plans of Rochester Airport.
   P.R.O. KEW, Document WO106 5912.
   Royal Engineers Institution , Brompton Barracks, Chatham,  Records Room.
(data on construction of Forts Borstal and Bridgewoods and the Siege Trials etc.)
   Home Office, "Designations of Regional Seats Of Government"  1968.
   Medway Military Research Group, Archive . Plans of Fort Bridgewoods circa 1962.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: STEVEG4HJE on December 30, 2009, 11:31:32
Hi All,

If you have passed the Bridgewoods site in the past few years you may have noticed a large aerial above one of the units at the rear of the site, that is the three element HF beam that I was referring to.  This is likely to mark the area of the counterscarp that was minned by the Royal Engineers in the very early 20th centuary, a photograph of the event has already been posted on this site.  Whilst I am a raido amateur in the local area, and this perhaps started my interest in Fort Bridgewoods, I have spent a great deal of time over the past four years or so researching the history of the site between the periods of 1921 and 1946.  I have managed to contact a number of the Experimental Wireless Assistants who worked or trained at Bridgwoods.  I have spoken at length with the son of the wartime chief instructor at Bridgewoods.  The father, CPO Albert Stevens RN Rtd, took a perfect copy of the long signal sent to Group North by Bismark and it was from this signal that the Admiralty were able to pinpoint the location of Bismark after contact had been lost. It was shortly after this that Bismark was sunk by ships of the Home Fleet.  Stevens was called to see Ellingworth in his office shortly after this event.  Stevens was under the impression that he was in for a rollocking for some error but instead was given a generous measure of whiskey and told that he had played a vital part in the sinking.
David, you have indeed identified the person I was thinking of, as soon as I read his name I recalled who it was.  I am told by a good friend that he has a nuymber of phtographs on 35mm slide of the fort, however, despite a number of requiests and a copy of my work to date I have not been able to get access to view them.  
I have a number of photographs, some taken by Dr Phillip Blenkinsop whose father and several uncles worked there as Experimental Wireless Assistants under Ellingworth.
Traffic Analysis was perhaps born at Fort Bridgewoods and one of the key people working in gthe Compilagtion and Records Room CRR was a Captain Jollowicz, subsequently Major Jolowicz who was a member of the Ingtelligence Corps.  One of the Intelligence Schools was based at his home in London.  A very influential man who was a professor of Law and specifically Roman law.  A Google search of Jolowicz will take you to a number of descriptions and an obituary.
The Hut Six Story by Gordon Welchman, one of gthe wartime crytographers at Bletchley is a good reference and shows how vital Bridgtwoods was to the breaking of the Enigma code.

Steve
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: kyn on December 30, 2009, 11:40:57
You have been busy researching!  How did you manage to track all the people down?
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: STEVEG4HJE on December 30, 2009, 11:52:53
Hi Kyn
Not easy tracking them down.  I managed to find one of the 'schoolboys' who were recruited by Ellingworth and Rev Donald Brand for special war work.  Many of the schoolboys came from the Math School and Kings in Rochester.  Indeed Ellingworths own son went to Kings and ended his career as a Major in the Royal Signals doing intercept work.  I am in regular contact with a Lt Col Rtd who was one of these people and he has very kindly introduced me to a number of the others who worked at Bridgwoods.
Interestingly I have just found a post on another site from a gentleman whose grandfather was the caretaker at Fort Bridgwoods post war
and describes generator rooms and generator tests.  I suspect from what is being described this will be late 1950s early 1960s when it was a bunker site.   The gentleman making the post is a Derek Harrison so wonder if anyone has knowledge of him and where he may be found.  The post was made in early 2008 and he was looking for more photographs of the site.  He states in his post that he has a couple of photographs himself. Would be good to see them!

Kind Regards.....Steve
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: kyn on December 30, 2009, 12:01:58
It is nice you have been able to track so many people down.  I have not heard of Derek Harrison, however one of the other members may have...
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: STEVEG4HJE on December 30, 2009, 12:11:19
Hi Kyn,

Thank you.   I have left a post on the site that I found so maybe I will get a response directly from the gentleman.  I suspect that the grandfather has already been referred to as the man with the dogs in very early postings on this site!
It would be good to track down the man as he may well have some good first hand information about the late history of the site.
I believe that the site was acquired by a local building company who strated the clearance [they should be shot].  I have picked up the name Legget who I suspect may have been Smith and Legget or Strood.  I have tried to trace them but they do not appear to trade under that name now.  As a developer they may have taken site photos etc before doing any work!  Would be good to track them down to find out.

Kind Regards. . . . . Steve
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: Riding With The Angels on December 30, 2009, 14:20:34
Very interesting posts Steve and I have learned a lot it was just the codes which I now understand are perhaps amateur radio callsigns (something I know nothing about) were confusing me as I construed them to be something to do with the actual subject matter of the Fort itself.

Am back on track now  :)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: david on December 30, 2009, 19:12:43
SteveG4HJE has asked me to post the following photograph of Fort Bridgewoods Home Guard 1940 as he has not yet got the hang of posting photographs to the forum.
He writes:
All in the photograph are members of Fort Bridgewoods Home Guard and by Day were Experimental Wireless Assistants. The central figure is Lt Cdr Marshal John William Ellingworth RN Rtd, the Officer in Charge of the wireless intercept station from January 1935 until March 1941 when the station officially moved to Chicksands, now the home of the Intelligence Corps.
Also in the photograph are Sidney Wort the second in charge and Capt Jollowicz.

(http://i379.photobucket.com/albums/oo234/palmerstonforts/chatham/Fort_Bridgewoods_Home_Guard.jpg)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: bromptonboy on December 31, 2009, 10:51:29
That is a cracking photograph Steve. Might be 'teaching granny to suck eggs' but have you thought about getting it published in the local papers with a request for information? As they were mostly local lads there may be family still in the area who could add some details.

BB
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: STEVEG4HJE on December 31, 2009, 14:16:58
Glad you all liked the photograph, I gained this through one of the old boys who worked there.  I did have the photograph placed in the Medway Messenger as a hook for another of the former Bridgewoods Operators who I had established lived locally in Rochester.  I had established the Road but not the house number.  Contact has now been made and I hope that I will soon have the opportunity to go and speak with him.  He joined Bridgwoods in March 1940 so was at the station when the bomb incident took place in October 1940.
Interestingly, one of the genteleman in the photograph described standing night guard at the station.  As all the EWAs were employed as civilians by the War Office they were required to do some form of war work.  In their case this was as members of the Home Guard and the duty was to protect their own station.  I have a letter in which standing night guard during the Blitz is described, this was a lone duty and a rife was drawn from the armoury along with three bullets - all had to be returned in good order at the end of duty.  More interestingly the letter mentions having the naval fort [Borstal] in site and knowing that there were a good many more on guard there!
Another of the gentleman described to me the move from Bridgewoods to Chicksands in March 1941.  This was undertaken by Maidstone and District buses and during the move the person lost his rifle!  I have access to copies of the several letters that went between Len Moore and the General Manager of the Gillingham Depot of Maidstone and District to recover the said rifle from lost property.  The Royal Military Police at Southill Barracks, Maidstone Road, Chatham had also been involved as it was the loss of a service weapon.
Whislt interception work officially ended at Bridgewoods in March 1941, a group of senior EWAs were maintained at the fort as trainers and they undertook the training of many of the school boys who were recrited.  Training was some three months and involved a dialy grind of morse code tuition.  Weekly test were taken and these were administered by Albert Stevens who was the chief instructor.  Stevens was a retired CPO Telegraphist RN, as were many of those recruthe rank of Lt Colonel Royal Signals and was awaredeited by Ellingworth. Other instructos were Les Hadler and Pop Blundell.  Hadler and Blundell were from the fist five operators recruited in 1926.  During a night watch at Bletchley Park, Ellingworth brought Welchman into one of his secrets, the fact that he had maintained a core of operators at Bridgwoods to provide a diversity of interception so what could not be heard at Beaumanor was likely to be intercepted at Fort Bridgewoods.  This was maintained until the end of WW2.  The 'school boys' were all posted into the Royal Signals in 1945 to undertake their national service.  Most ended up working for GCHQ in various capacities and at least one, Sandy LeGassic, went on to attain the rank of Lt Colonel and was awaded the MBE.  Sandy's father was the owner of the Upper Bell public house at Blue Bell Hill and had been an officer in the Royal Artillary prior to the great millitary reductions post WW1.

David, thank you so much for posting the picture of the Bridgewoods Home Guard.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: david on December 31, 2009, 17:08:07
Another picture from STEVEG4HJE posted on his behalf.

(http://i379.photobucket.com/albums/oo234/palmerstonforts/chatham/bridgewoods2-1.jpg)

He writes, in the hope that it wil promote some interest locally as certainly at least two of the gentlemen lived in Rochester:-

My interest in radio has been life long, both as a professional with the RN and as a radio amateur.  I first read about Bridgewoods part in the story in the mid 1970s when the first books on Enigma were being released.  I first read Prof R V Jones book Most Secret War when it was first published and I cannot tell you how many times I have read it since.  The story of the battle of the beams is perhaps one that has been most published since the great releases as the 30 year rule permitted.  Much of the material that Jones had from Enigma that supported his beating the beams was derived from German high grade Enigma traffic [5 letter groups] which were intercepted at
Fort Bridgewoods.  This was Enigma Red Key which was German Air Force [GAF]. This traffic was identified as vital by Gordon Welchman, a Cambridge Don who went in the first weeks of the war to work at Bletchley Park.  Welchman established a close personal relationship with Lt Cdr Ellingworth RN Rtd who was the Office in Charge at Bridgewoods.  This relationship brought about an interplay between Hut 6 at Bletchley and the Heads of Watch at Bridgewoods.
The message headings, including message disciminants, for all intercepted traffic was sent by teleprinter to Bletchley Park so that messages that were likely to be capable of a break could be transmitted to them as priority. These became known at Bridgewoods as Welchman Specials.  [See Hut Six Story by Gordon Welchman - still available via Amazon].  The link to the Jones work was an added bonus for me.  I have also kept a close watch for Radio Amateurs amongst those who worked at Bridgewoods and as you would expect I have identified some.  One of those who started work there in the mid 1930s was a Ken Cook who held the call G2KK.  The son in law of Ellingworth was also an amateur with the call G6HB.  From the callsigns it can be established that they had been licensed as amateurs from the very early days of radio in the 1920s.
The intercept station at Bridgewoods officially opened in 1926, although there was work being undertaken there from 1921.  When they first opened there were five operators and one officer, Lt Beale RE who was the officer in charge.  Beale built their first interception receiver which was housed in a tea chest!  I have attached a photograph which includes the first five operators - I have a list, made by Ellingworth, which shows their dates of birth and the date they jointed Bridgewoods. These from the early days were known as 'The Hard Core' as they had been with the stations since it very first opened.  You will note the names and the date of joining - those from 1926 are the original 5.  Also shown in the photograph is Ellingworth, The first job that these five did was not interception work but a loan to Chelsea Barracks where they provided point to point communications during the General Strike with other government stations around the country.
It is just such a shame that Bridgewoods did not survive in the same way that Bletchley Park has and taken the credit for the vital work that was done there. Whilst the story of Enigma has become part of the national history, the work of the interception stations is still shrouded in great secrecy as in 1945 they did not stop but just changed their focus to the 'BEAR' in the EAST! Ellingworth retired from Beaumanor, the station outside of Leicester which became the new Chatham, in 1953. He received an OBE for his war work. Interestingly Ellingworth rented a house at 3 Watts Avenue, Rochester, it is a very large and well appointed house and is still there today.  It is about a mile down the Maidstone Road from Fort Bridgewoods. Watts Avenue was known as Surgeons Row as most who lived there were RN Surgeons, including at least one Admiral, several Captains and a number of Commanders! Ellingworth was a church warden at St Mary's Strood where the vicar was the Rev Donald Brand. Ellingworth put Brand to work as a recruiter for young men who were considered suitable for secret war work.  Brand also provided initial accommodation for them whilst they underwent their training as Experimental Wireless Assistants. One of these was Cyril [Sandy] Norman LeGassick, whose father was the owner of the Upper Bell Public house at the top of Blue Bell Hill. Sandy was a Rochester Math School boy and was recruited by a Mr Owen who was a regular in the saloon bar of the Upper Bell.  Interestingly, there is a photograph of the Upper Bell pub which appears in the Kent Messenger book Old Chatham in Photographs.  I sent this to Sandy a couple of years ago and he was really taken aback as the gentleman leaving the pub was none other that his father.  Sandy did not have a photo of his father at the pub, what a small
world!
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: STEVEG4HJE on December 31, 2009, 18:22:51
David, thank you so much for making that post for me with the photograph.  One thing I forgot to mention in my ramble was that from Hut 6 the decrypted German went to Hut 3 where the intelligence staff translated and sorted the information for the various commanders in the field.  In Hut 3 Bimbo Norman, a professor of German, looked after the interests of Dr R V Jones and provided him with intercepts from Enigma that related to beams and subsequently rardar and V weapons.  The latter would have been after the move from Fort Bridgewoods.  The beam traffic was quite remarkable as Bridgewoods had managed to find the radio traffic of the German experimental unit that was developing the beam stations and beam flying.  These were not well trained radio operators but scientists and consequently they betrayed their radio frequency schedules and Enigma settings.  On one particular day one of the operators at Bridgewoods took traffic in plain language from this group who were trying to sort out an Enigma setting problem, and during the course of the exchange [all in morse code] gave the wheel setting and plug settings on the Enigma machine on that day, a God send to Bletchley!
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: kyn on April 05, 2010, 10:33:58
Keith Gulvin at the entrance in the 80's
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: kyn on April 11, 2010, 23:01:03
Bang!
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: Solarp on April 12, 2010, 00:06:39
Wow! You never cease to amaze me with your vast array of sources!

Was this taken during the seige operations? And that is Bridgewoods on the horizon? :)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: kyn on April 12, 2010, 00:15:06
It was and it is  :)

Had a little trip to the archives, many more to come!
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: kyn on April 12, 2010, 22:54:31
Unfortunately I saved the first one I cropped wrong so two of these pics are smaller than they should be :-(
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: Solarp on April 13, 2010, 18:09:36
Great stuff Kyn, there is soooo little about Bridgewoods roaming around. I drove up the M2 the other day and tried to picture how it would have looked, the motorway now runs pretty much where the bottom fence line is, oh how its changed  :)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: kyn on April 13, 2010, 19:51:47
I suppose due to it's later use alot of it's history was still secret until pretty recently.  This stuff is great though, having pictures of the seige training is something I never expected to see!
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: Solarp on April 13, 2010, 20:09:13
Ah yes of course, I never thought of it that way before. My Uncle explored pretty much all of the Medway forts when he was a nipper, including Grain, Pitt and Bridgewoods, next time I see him ill have to pick his brains and see what stories he has  :)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: kyn on April 14, 2010, 11:45:49
Stories are always good, helps give the places atmosphere when your learning about them!
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: Solarp on April 14, 2010, 16:39:28
Such destruction! Did they not have seige operations at luton as well? I have wandered around the ditch but unless it has been repaired I didnt see any evidence of this amount of damage  :)

Very similar looking ditch to Borstal too, very high unlike Luton
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: kyn on April 14, 2010, 20:56:55
Once I have got round to them I have plans of the siege works at Fort Borstal, Luton and Fort Bridgewoods. They always repaired the wall after these events, as you can see when you walk around the ditches.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: kyn on April 15, 2010, 18:27:02
 :)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: Solarp on April 16, 2010, 19:44:07
Once I have got round to them I have plans of the siege works at Fort Borstal, Luton and Fort Bridgewoods. They always repaired the wall after these events, as you can see when you walk around the ditches.

Never before have words excited me so much!  :) I must say I never really noticed any repair work, either time has taken its tole or my untrained eye needs some work.

Can almost make out Borstal in your last pic, do you think that white line is the supposed "tram" line that ran between the forts?

Also, unless you fancy some digging, there is nothing left of the fort. A long time ago when I was young, I remember a corrugated tin/steel/iron? hut in the wooded area next to the now royal mail depot, a new building has been built so I imagine it has now gone.

Fantastic as always Kyn  :)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: kyn on April 16, 2010, 23:17:20
I'm sure I have some pictures showing repaired brickwork from the lower lines somewhere, I will see if I can dig some out next week unless someone else beats me to it.  Thinking about it there could be some around Fort Amherst as the unrestored area was used for seige training too!
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: kyn on April 19, 2010, 10:35:48
 :)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: Solarp on April 26, 2010, 16:21:07
Righty, just got back from a little explore. Unfortunately what I believed to be the siege works is actually just a bank of woods and shrubs, its too far north of the complex to be part of the works, driving at speed makes it difficult to get your bearings! Although all is not lost as there is a trail down the western side of the now Royal Mail depot, down here are steep chalk banks, foliage is thick and there is a lot of debris and rubble. Anyone here good with identifying bricks? So this could possible be part of the siege works, although a bit overgrown to really get a scope of it.

The royal mail depot is actually to the far right of this photo, the woodland obscures any idea of the seige works. The greener part to the left in the middle is what I first thought to be the remains of the earth movements, but upon having a closer look, was too far north of Bridgewoods to be part of the works.

(http://i326.photobucket.com/albums/k438/mhjubjub/bridgewoods/theone.jpg)

Red circle indicates the center of my photo, and the red line is the trail.

(http://i326.photobucket.com/albums/k438/mhjubjub/bridgewoods/Map.png)




Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: kyn on April 27, 2010, 11:17:14
 :)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: Solarp on April 27, 2010, 11:34:06
Ill post a pic of the brick when I get on my computer (I'm on the works laptop!) see if anyone can confirm the period, its certainly larger than a modern brick, much lighter in colour too.

Wonderful picture too Kyn!
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: kyn on April 28, 2010, 10:42:34
 :)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: kyn on April 30, 2010, 09:04:02
 :)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: Solarp on April 30, 2010, 14:02:06
What was the reason into why they carried out these siege works? Was it part of a war games drill or just general practise?
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: kyn on April 30, 2010, 16:36:54
It was part of their training.  I guess when a new idea was thought of they would toddle off and give it a go, see if it worked...
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: Solarp on April 30, 2010, 23:18:07
I guess so, and what better use than on the redundant forts! Still amazes me that they completed them knowing they were obsolete  :)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: kyn on May 04, 2010, 20:19:58
 :)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: kyn on May 10, 2010, 11:10:00
 :)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: Chezzz on May 17, 2010, 19:30:14
A few more pics of Bridgewoods fort :)
(http://i151.photobucket.com/albums/s150/buffher/Historic/fort.jpg)

(http://i151.photobucket.com/albums/s150/buffher/Historic/fort001.jpg)

Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: kyn on May 17, 2010, 20:24:31
Wow, thank you so much for posting these.  They are certainly rare photo's!
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: kyn on May 23, 2010, 20:51:27
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/IMG_92271Small.jpg)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: kyn on May 24, 2010, 18:59:18
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/IMG_9227Small.jpg)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: medwayboy on May 26, 2010, 15:41:45
Had a wander around the shown area this afternoon but didn't find anything. Hard work in the wooded part off the track so could easily miss something. Needed a big machete  :)
When I get time i'll carry on checking other areas. It's so disappointing that you can't see this wonderful fort.
(http://i762.photobucket.com/albums/xx270/stroodboy/Borstal1.jpg)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: Solarp on May 26, 2010, 16:33:30
there is a lot of rubble to the north of the picture, in the unhighlighted area, the bricks look pretty old
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: kyn on May 27, 2010, 09:40:34
Last two pictures.
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/IMG_92281Small.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/IMG_9228Small.jpg)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: SeanT on July 13, 2010, 22:42:27
Thanks to all for the info and pix for Fort Bridgewoods. Fascinating stuff. It has only been via this Forum that I was aware it had existed at all.
kyn, can I ask what the source is for the seige pix? I am just as interested to see what the Nashenden Valley itself looked like at this time (considering how very much it has been altered).
Is it likely that the Fort was in any condition to have been used in any way during WWI, for continued training or stationing of soldiers? If so, is there to anyone's knowledge any record of which units may have been lodged there?

Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: kyn on July 14, 2010, 09:10:10
The pics have come from file HW 14/94 at the National Archives, Kew.  If you read through the thread you will see that the fort was used during WWII and what its use was  :)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: SeanT on July 14, 2010, 20:29:46
Thanks kyn. Yes, did read the refs in the thread to WWII, but it was the WWI years I was curious about.
 :) I would gather, then, that the Fort lay in disuse until WWII.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: kyn on July 14, 2010, 21:42:19
Ah sorry I misread your post!  Not sure of any use during WWI, hope somebody else can help.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: carolmapley on September 19, 2010, 14:05:56
The postwar caretaker of Fort Bridgewoods was a Mr Ganges, a retired policedog handler. He lived in the adjacent hut/bungalow and built an assault course on which to train his alsatians.

Myself and some other friends gained access to the fort using seigeworks of our own, old bits of pipe pushed into the cracked masonary in the sides of the ditches. Once in we had much fun playing cowboys and indians. However on exiting through the hole in the hedge round the fort we were met by a very tall (or so he seemed) police officer earing a gannex raincoat with motorcycle gauntlets. Most of my friends ran off leaving me to be caught. I was then
 marched by my ear to his waiting velecette motorcycle. Once there I was given an ear beating with his gauntlets. Oh how politically incorrect.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: AlanH on September 20, 2010, 10:03:24
Well done carolmapley , I couldn't remember his (the caretakers) name as you'll see from my posting on this subject exactly a year ago today. He didn't always have alsations though as you'll see from that post.
Nice old chap who moved me on from there a few times. I lived over on the Maidstone Rd in Cookham Wood from the early 50s so that was one of my playgrounds.
Cheers.
Alan.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: carolmapley on September 23, 2010, 22:49:54
I also lived down on Maidstone Road - 355 to be exact opposite the old Co-Op and Mr Standens rather strange grocers shop. Strange? If you lived in the area during the 60's you'll know exactly what I mean!
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: Tricky on November 07, 2010, 16:06:22
A few more pics of Bridgewoods fort :)


Hi everyone my names Richard and have just joined your form as I have been reading through much of it as a guest for about a month now. I have a keen interest in the forts around the medway area, as a child until moving out of my parents I lived at the base of the coney banks in chatham and fort Luton was my playground for many years in its derelict state.
I am not sure if you were aware atall but in the above photos that ''Chezz'' had posted, the second photo down is deffinately fort Luton and not Fort Bridgewood.
I also spent many times exploring in the Shorts tunnels ''Blaw knox'' Rochester, Cliffe fort, Shornemead fort,Fort Amerhurst and also the fort on the island opposite the strand in Gillingham, (I forget the name of this one but have vivid memories of it) I am also an English Heritage member and spend quite a bit of time looking around many of the forts and castles around our area of Kent.
If this is in the wrong section then I appolagise but was looking at the info on fort Bridgewoods when I saw the pics of Fort Luton.
Anyway enough of me and I look forward to reading more of the interesting facts on your forum.

Richard





Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: MOK on November 07, 2010, 18:50:39
I dont know how true this report i received is, but I have to visit prisons all over the country as part of my job. HMP Cookham Wood was recently re roled from females to young offenders and was re vamped and had extra building work during the course of this re role, I was told that during this work they were hampered by either foundations or tunnels from the fort.
I re call that the land Cookham Wood nick occupies was always fenced along side the Maidstone road and for us was a no go area when I was a kid in the 60's, but was not sure ever why. What was behind the fence ?
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: Tricky on November 07, 2010, 19:52:43
I dont know how true this report i received is, but I have to visit prisons all over the country as part of my job. HMP Cookham Wood was recently re roled from females to young offenders and was re vamped and had extra building work during the course of this re role, I was told that during this work they were hampered by either foundations or tunnels from the fort.
I re call that the land Cookham Wood nick occupies was always fenced along side the Maidstone road and for us was a no go area when I was a kid in the 60's, but was not sure ever why. What was behind the fenc
e ?

Hi,
My brothers motherinlaw is a warden at the cookham wood young offenders prison or hotel as they seem like these days  ;0)  I should really make an effort to ask her for any information that she could possibly give me on the fort or the surrounding areas. She may even come up with something interesting.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: AlanH on November 08, 2010, 08:49:25
Hi MOK.
Do you mean the fenced off woods above Sir Evelyn Rd as you head towards Maidstone? From when I lived just near there on Maidstone Rd during the 50s and 60s I only ever saw sheep grazed there and I was always in there.
That was long before the prison was built though.
There was also woods the other side of Sir Evelyn Rd next to the water reservois but they had the police houses built on them in the 60s which ruined one of our favourite play areas.
Alan.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: MOK on November 08, 2010, 14:05:29
I always thought as a lad, that the woods behind the fence closest to the Maidstone road (opposite side to the houses) was war dept and guarded, or the like and as such we were frightened to go in there. Probably just childish rumours to keep us Tideway kids off your manor :).
We used to get into the gardens of the Fry house by the bus turn around stop near the garage, that was more like a jungle.
Funny how the childhood fascination of the forts comes through into adult life, I am suprised that tunnels and the like are still so intriguing.
I went right through from the St Margaret street park tunnels into the GPO store room with a mat
e, funny arrangement as there are two tunnels but one just seemed to loop back into the other. I remember looking at all the GPO roadside work shelters stored, felt like the bravest thing I had ever done at the time.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: prb on November 08, 2010, 17:24:54
A Royal Navy camp part HMS Pembroke,they had the best chestnut trees in the area
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: Chatham_Girl85 on November 08, 2010, 21:17:28
if you all mean the plot of land from the road of the prison upto where fort bridgwoods was...there still has nothing built on it. rather overgrown and I have noticed a board mentioning HMS land I think
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: peterchall on November 08, 2010, 21:38:52
I'm surprised there has been no mention (apologies if there has) of the hutted RN 'barracks' that was built in WW2 to the north of Fort Bridgewoods. It was in the woods opposite the end of The Tideway and the filling station. It was the reason for the diversion of alternate journeys of the 'Chatham & District' Service 5 (Strand to Borstal) to become Service 5A (Strand to Cookham Wood).
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: AlanH on December 01, 2010, 11:01:01
I don't remember those huts Peterchall as the woods only seemed to be used to graze sheep at one time. I'm sure the buses to Borstal and Cookham Wood were numbered 146 Cookham Wood and 145 Borstal.
Alan.







Modified due to full member name not used.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: peterchall on December 01, 2010, 11:51:13
Services 145 & 146 were Maidstone and District services after they took over from Chatham and District in 1955. By that time the RN camp had closed.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: Graham French on February 28, 2011, 13:16:42
I thought I would share my pictures of Fort Bridgewoods taken 1980 and 1982, In the last image showing the long [5 Arch] Counterscarp Gallery the 8 Rifle slits on the extreme left were back filled with chalk rubble, I summised at the time that this might be the site of one of the breaches into the Fort during the seige operations. This is now confirmed if you look at the image in an earlier post which shows the plan of the seige and the tunnels dug to breach the Counterscarp Gallery.

Graham


(http://i721.photobucket.com/albums/ww213/grahamf_bucket/Fort%20Bridgewoods/scan0017.jpg)
(http://i721.photobucket.com/albums/ww213/grahamf_bucket/Fort%20Bridgewoods/scan0019.jpg)
(http://i721.photobucket.com/albums/ww213/grahamf_bucket/Fort%20Bridgewoods/scan0018.jpg)
(http://i721.photobucket.com/albums/ww213/grahamf_bucket/Fort%20Bridgewoods/scan0015.jpg)
(http://i721.photobucket.com/albums/ww213/grahamf_bucket/Fort%20Bridgewoods/scan0011.jpg)
(http://i721.photobucket.com/albums/ww213/grahamf_bucket/Fort%20Bridgewoods/scan0009.jpg)
(http://i721.photobucket.com/albums/ww213/grahamf_bucket/Fort%20Bridgewoods/scan0006.jpg)
(http://i721.photobucket.com/albums/ww213/grahamf_bucket/Fort%20Bridgewoods/scan0004.jpg)
(http://i721.photobucket.com/albums/ww213/grahamf_bucket/Fort%20Bridgewoods/scan0008.jpg)
(http://i721.photobucket.com/albums/ww213/grahamf_bucket/Fort%20Bridgewoods/scan0005.jpg)
(http://i721.photobucket.com/albums/ww213/grahamf_bucket/Fort%20Bridgewoods/scan0002.jpg)
(http://i721.photobucket.com/albums/ww213/grahamf_bucket/Fort%20Bridgewoods/scan0007.jpg)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: kyn on February 28, 2011, 15:57:52
Thank you for adding your photos, it is so good to see more of the Fort before its demolition!
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
Post by: kyn on March 07, 2011, 13:50:40
Siege Mining Operations 1907

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/IMG_8344Large.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/IMG_8347Large.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/IMG_8350Large.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/IMG_8351Large.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/IMG_8352Large.jpg)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: kyn on March 08, 2011, 16:12:19
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/IMG_8355Large.jpg)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: Swanney on March 13, 2011, 15:15:40
It was interesting to see mention of Mr Harry Gange in earlier posts.  He worked with my father as a plumber in the RN Barracks Chatham and I believe he had been in the Royal Engineers previously.   He lived in a bungalow at the fort and had the job of keeping it ready for use should the MOD need it.  Harry gave my father a full tour of the fort (in the 1960's) but I had chicken pox so didn't get to see it unfortunately.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: martinrogers on April 19, 2012, 10:26:09
1883 additions to the defence of the area commanded by Fort Bridgewoods
(http://i1271.photobucket.com/albums/jj631/martinkbrogers/P1040359.jpg)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: Geoff B on April 19, 2012, 15:56:19
Fort Bridgewoods was also a Y Station in the second world war. Fort Bridgewoods received German coded radio messages, which were sent to Bletchley Park for the codebreakers to work on. The other Y station in Kent was Fort Halstead near Sevenoaks . My understanding was Fort Bridgewoods intercepted the German teleprinter traffic of what became known as the German Tunny Machine. Whilst Fort Halstead picked up Enigma traffic. I got this information from a recent visit to Bletchley Park by one of the codebreakers of the time.

 I also understand Fort Bridgewoods was bombed and an antenna destroyed which put the decoding behind for a few days until it could be repaired. So Kent has this to be proud of as well in its war efforts. The Bridgewoods intercepts were put on a tape, which run on the first ever computer built in the country. This was designed by Tom Flowers from the Post office and Alan Turing. The computer was known as Colossus.

With this operation between Bletchley and Ft Bridgewood it was like having a man in Hitlers bunker so I am told. It was quicker for Hitler to ask Bletchley what was happening rather than his own secret service staff what was happening. Ironically no one had seen a Tunny machine until after the war yet Turing had worked it all out and built one. An amazing story. These 2 Y service stations had picked up and gave intelligence where the German units were prior to D Day. Even their service states. Including if the officers mess needed more wine when German operators got careless sending messages. Their location was also pinpointed. They even got to know the names of German Operators and their wives names by messages. Well done to all the Y station staff at Fort Bridgewood and Fort Halstead and of course the codebreakers at Bletchley Park in this chain. This has been a lovely thread to read and I hope this information has helped to round it off. Ironically the site is a Post Office lorry depot now. It still has a Post Office link to that of Tom Flowers who built the Colossus at Dollis Hill.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: peterchall on April 19, 2012, 16:38:42
I also understand Fort Bridgewood was bombed and an antenna destroyed which put the decodong behind for a few days until it could be repaired.
An army lorry visiting the site was hit and its ATS driver lost both her legs, but it was probably a chance hit rather than a deliberate attack. I heard about it at the time via my dad who worked at the RAOC Depot at Chatham Gun Wharf - I'm not sure whether she was one of the ATS girls who worked with him, but I remember he was quite upset. It happened on 17th October 1940 (OK, my memory is not that good - I looked the last bit up :))
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: Geoff B on April 20, 2012, 13:32:54
Sorry regarding the codebreaking work of Fort Bridgewoods I forgot to add the link to Bletchley Park where the codebreaking centre is. Here it is

  http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/content/museum1.rhtm  (http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/content/museum1.rhtm).

It is well worth a visit. The codebreakers are still there and some act as guides. Their work was Top Secret, and only recently has been declassified, and some things can be spoken about. A stunning story.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: Geoff B on April 23, 2012, 13:46:17
A correction to message 81. The Fort Halsted Y station should read Knockholt  not Fort Halstead. It would appear from the letter on that site Knockholt handled teleprinter traffic and Fort Bridgewoods handled Enigma morse code traffic. I am sorry for getting the location wrong and the enigma and telerpinter traffic the wrong way
around.


please see this thread on Knockholt.



 http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=10466.0  (http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=10466.0)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: STEVEG4HJE on June 11, 2012, 17:35:54
Geoff B a very interesting series of posts about Knockholt. The Post Officer engineer who built the Collusus was Tommy Flowers and he did so with much of his own money. There was a documentary on the subject on TV recently which covered his part in the development and building of the machine, included a rare interview with Tommy just prior to his death.

I have been researching Fort Bridgewoods and the WOYG intercept station for a number of years now and have recently established the identity of the first officer commanding, a Lieutenant Lionel Atwell Beal MBE who died suddenly in 1934 and is buried in Fort Pitt Military cemetery on City Way Rochester.  His home family home was on Chatham Maidstone Road opposite Fort Horsted.  His wife was the daughter of a Royal Navy Captain and they lived just off Watts Avenue in Rochester.  Beal was a Regular Army Reserve Officer with the Royal Signals and his occupation is described as Radio Engineer.  Indeed upon his taking over as OC at Fort Bridgewoods in 1926 he provided the first interception receiver which he had built himself and it was housed in a tea chest! Beal's father was a well respected consultant surgeon at one of the London hospitals and was still alive in the 1950's.

I am seeking further information about Lionel Atwell Beal MBE so if anyone can help I would be most obliged.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: Geoff B on June 12, 2012, 16:47:39
Geoff B a very interesting series of posts about Knockholt. The Post Officer engineer who built the Collusus was Tommy Flowers and he did so with much of his own money. There was a documentary on the subject on TV recently which covered his part in the development and building of the machine, included a rare interview with Tommy just prior to his death.

I have been researching Fort Bridgewoods and the WOYG intercept station for a number of years now and have recently established the identity of the first officer commanding, a Lieutenant Lionel Atwell Beal MBE who died suddenly in 1934 and is buried in Fort Pitt Military cemetery on City Way Rochester.  His home family home was on Chatham Maidstone Road opposite Fort Horsted.  His wife was the daughter of a Royal Navy Captain and they lived just off Watts Avenue in Rochester.  Beal was a Regular Army Reserve Officer with the Royal Signals and his occupation is described as Radio Engineer.  Indeed upon his taking over as OC at Fort Bridgewoods in 1926 he provided the first interception receiver which he had built himself and it was housed in a tea chest! Beal's father was a well respected consultant surgeon at one of the London hospitals and was still alive in the 1950's.

I am seeking further information about Lionel Atwell Beal MBE so if anyone can help I would be most obliged.

Thanks for that Steveg4hje. I was in the Fort Pitt cemetery recently  :)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: Plano on August 27, 2012, 14:03:21
You might like to read something on Fort Bridgewoods. I found this on google: Palmerston's Enigma Wireless Interception at Fort Bridgewoods. I was able to open the pdf file and it is very comprehensive and interesting. Fort Bridgewoods under Lt. Commander Marshall Ellingworth, a remarkable man! This was a highly regarded WOYG intercept station by Bletchley Park because of their accuracy. Hope that's of interest.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: Andrew401968 on August 27, 2012, 17:00:19
Why would it be "Palmerston's Enigma Wireless Interception"? After all, when Palmerston (Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston) died in 1865, wireless communcation hadn't even been dreamt of, let alone radio interception and the enigma machine. The title sort implies that he was somehow involved with Enigma Wirless Interception in the 1940's. It's a very sloppy title really. So, what connection does Palmerston have with 1940's radio interception?

Yes, I know somebody is going to say "Oh its because it was located in a "Palmerston Fort", but the title  implies the person rather than the location. However, even if it was the place, it would be inaccurate really, because "Palmerston Fort" stems from the derogatory term "Palmerston's Follies" coined by those who opposed the construction of fixed fortifcations, rather than his direct involvement with the forts. This is especially the case with the Chatham land defences, because they were removed from the orginal construction programme to cut cost. Still, it wouldn't make it "Palmerston's Enigma Wireless Interception".
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: david on August 28, 2012, 10:06:02
Why would it be "Palmerston's Enigma Wireless Interception"? After all, when Palmerston (Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston) died in 1865, wireless communcation hadn't even been dreamt of...
Good point. I agree.

Quote
Yes, I know somebody is going to say "Oh its because it was located in a "Palmerston Fort",
But they would be wrong. The Chatham forts are not 'Palmerston' Forts.

Quote
"Palmerston Fort" stems from the derogatory term "Palmerston's Follies" coined by those who opposed the construction of fixed fortifcations.
Only partially correct. The term 'Palmerston's Follies' was first given to the forts on Portsdown Hill. I have yet to find the very first use of the phrase in the press. It may even be post Victorian.
Now everyone uses the term 'Palmerston's Follies' in connection with all Victorian forts, which is blatantly incorrect. Even the Maltese call their forts Palmerton's Follies, when they are not Palmerston and not a folly. The Palmerston Forts were those proposed by Lord Palmerston and can be confused with the term 'Royal Commission' forts, which added to them and incorporated pre-Palmerston Defences. Those at Chatham were neither Palmerson Forts, nor Royal Commission Forts. I note that the author has lifted a section from my old Palmerston Forts Society website, in an attempt to explain the connection but this is not applicable to the Chatham forts, which are all 'Post Royal Commission' forts.

It waffles on about the Chatham forts... "in Chatham they became known as
Gladstone’s Folly.." Eh? What's that all about?
None of the forts were follies! I could explain why but it will take a lot of space.

I will get down from my soap box now.  :)

The report is interesting, and probably accurate, where it describes the Enigma Wireless Interception. The Title is misleading and would be better as ''Fort Bridgewood's Enigma Wireless Interception'.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: Heather Beale on September 17, 2012, 17:19:49
Geoff B a very interesting series of posts about Knockholt. The Post Officer engineer who built the Collusus was Tommy Flowers and he did so with much of his own money. There was a documentary on the subject on TV recently which covered his part in the development and building of the machine, included a rare interview with Tommy just prior to his death.

I have been researching Fort Bridgewoods and the WOYG intercept station for a number of years now and have recently established the identity of the first officer commanding, a Lieutenant Lionel Atwell Beal MBE who died suddenly in 1934 and is buried in Fort Pitt Military cemetery on City Way Rochester.  His home family home was on Chatham Maidstone Road opposite Fort Horsted.  His wife was the daughter of a Royal Navy Captain and they lived just off Watts Avenue in Rochester.  Beal was a Regular Army Reserve Officer with the Royal Signals and his occupation is described as Radio Engineer.  Indeed upon his taking over as OC at Fort Bridgewoods in 1926 he provided the first interception receiver which he had built himself and it was housed in a tea chest! Beal's father was a well respected consultant surgeon at one of the London hospitals and was still alive in the 1950's.

I am seeking further information about Lionel Atwell Beal MBE so if anyone can help I would be most obliged.
Hello,
I am Heather Beale, Lionel Attwell Beale's grand daughter. Last weekend my father, Lionel John Beale, brought me all his records of his father's work at Bridgewoods, including photographs of the first duplex radio responder (forgive me if I have described that wrong).

If I can help you with information using the documents my father has given me, I am happy to do so. I could ask Dad if he has other knowledge of Lionel Attwell Beale's work, but he was very young when his father died at 39.

Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: kyn on September 18, 2012, 07:32:04
Hi Heather Beale, I for one would love to see the documents you have.  Thank you so much for your kind offer of sharing them!
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: Heather Beale on September 18, 2012, 10:24:58
I will see what the photos etc. scan like, but I have yet to work out how to upload pdf's on this forum, so give me a few days and I will see what I can do.

I came across this website by accident since I am trying to find out what my Grandfather got his MBE for. The citation does not say and strangely no one in the family seemed to know but I am certain it was for work he was doing at Fort Bridgewood.

Does anyone else here know how to trace why an MBE recipient received the award, or maybe even know why Lionel Attwell Beale got his in particular please?
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: cliveh on September 18, 2012, 15:42:57

Does anyone else here know how to trace why an MBE recipient received the award, or maybe even know why Lionel Attwell Beale got his in particular please?

Try the 'London Gazette' search:

http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/search

You'll need some idea of the date it was awarded. Not sure if it gives individual detailed citations or just 'for services to ...'


cliveh
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: cliveh on September 18, 2012, 16:10:41

Does anyone else here know how to trace why an MBE recipient received the award, or maybe even know why Lionel Attwell Beale got his in particular please?

Try the 'London Gazette' search:

http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/search

You'll need some idea of the date it was awarded. Not sure if it gives individual detailed citations or just 'for services to ...'


cliveh

Here he is in the 'Edinburgh Gazette' Jan 6 1933:


cliveh
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: STEVEG4HJE on September 19, 2012, 13:20:02
I note the comments made by David in his post 28 August and acknowledge his learned opinion.

There are a couple of things I wish to make clear, however. Firstly the document of mine that has been discovered from an internet search should not be available to public view. It was placed within a private web site belonging to the Medway Amateur Receiving and Transmitting Society, of which I am a member. When this site was removed from use the ISP removed all of the protective features which has allowed it to be seen in the public domain. This was a very early draft of what is now a far larger and more detailed research project into wireless interception work at Fort Bridgewoods, which is my primary interest in the site. Secondly, the waffles on referred to by David and which receives short shrift from him, has as it's primary source document a recently declassified war office document which was written for GCHQ in 1948 as an un-official history of the War Office Y Group by Lt Cdr Ellingworth DSM OBE RN Rtd, who commanded at Bridgewoods from 1935 until 1941. He identifies in his document Palmerson, The Royal Commission and Gladstone, and indeed refers to the Fort as being locally referred to as a Gladstone Folly at the time of its construction. One would suspect that this refers to the political fiscal policy which applied at the time rather than to the nature of the building which is more traditionally referred to as a folly.

Clearly there are differing authorities in any serious research, but one would suspect that Ellingworth perhaps had access to War Office documents and records at the time of his writing, having been in actual command of the site and indeed closely linked to RSME Brompton who had locus for the fabric of the site a long number of years.

My primary interest is in the wireless work that the site became a vehicle for. The short opening page of the draft document just sets the scene of where it took place.

I am very pleased to say that the forum has now allowed me contact with the family of Lionel Atwell Beal, the first commanding officer of intercept work from 1926 to 1934, and for that I am most grateful.
Steve G4HJE
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: david on September 26, 2012, 09:50:39
Thanks for explaining that STEVEG4HJE. There are many Fort Record Books held within the National Archive in which the commanding officer of a Fort, tasked with producing a history of the establishment which now fell under his command, compiled a history with many inaccuracies of fact. I would respectfully suggest that this may be one such example.

Quote
refers to the Fort as being locally referred to as a Gladstone Folly at the time of its construction

Bridgewoods was commenced in 1879. At this time Gladstone was not with the Treasury or the Office of Works so his connection to the Chatham forts is rather tenuous. He became Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Works in 1885.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: Leofwine on February 28, 2013, 09:03:54
Is there anything left of the fort or has it been completely removed now?
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: Steve H on April 06, 2013, 22:39:54
I would like to know as well. :)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: kyn on April 06, 2013, 22:54:27
I have heard there are some foundations/lower sections under the concrete floor but have no idea what is left now.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: peterchall on April 06, 2013, 22:59:42
The present Royal Mail depot is on the exact site and there is no sign of the fort on the surface on GE or Bing Maps.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: Walderslade_W on May 16, 2013, 09:18:13
As mentioned in one of the first posts, the Fort was demolished and the Post Office Depot now sits on the site, which was built in the late 80's. I know of school mates, who explored a lot of it back in the mid eighties. There was a lot of underground network tunnels to it, but I don't know if these still exist or what state they are in.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: steve mullane on June 01, 2013, 22:47:17
If I recall correctly, the post office was built in the early 90's. I'm pretty sure the photos I took of the tunnels at Bridgewood were taken in 1990, at that time all that was left were 2 tunnels which I believe were to the counterscarp galleries, the tunnels went down lots of steps. I assume to go under the ditch and then up some steps which led into the rooms which still had musket loops in the wall and frame work for a platform for another set of loops above. I have photos of the steps leading down and some of the room showing both sets of musket loops.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: kyn on June 03, 2013, 09:36:23
Sounds a lot like counterscarp galleries, I hadn't realised this fort had them.  It would be really nice to see your photos :)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: steve mullane on June 03, 2013, 22:02:49
the photos have been scanned but hopefully look ok
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: kyn on June 04, 2013, 07:39:24
Thank you so much for adding these.  After a flick through some other old images (I think these can be found online) I realised that I did know these existed as there is an exterior shot.  The frame work is interesting though.  Fort Borstal has two tier counterscarp galleries but there is no second floor or fixtures in the walls so we assumed there must have been framework in these, I wonder if they were similar to the framework here?  Although it would have to be freestanding.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: man-of-kent on June 04, 2013, 07:51:24
I have heard there are some foundations/lower sections under the concrete floor but have no idea what is left now.
You're a very resourceful person Kyn. I'm surprised you haven't flashed your eyelashes at the head of the post office and got permission to dig up the floor.   :)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: kyn on June 04, 2013, 08:42:39
 :)  Our little digging team are tied up with other projects at the moment!  If we can get some more volunteers I will arrange it :)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: jc101 on September 01, 2013, 11:25:15
ooh, ooh, lets dig....!
A couple of my colleagues at TDH Gravesend have visited Fort Bridgewoods, they have been telling me the stories of their visit...
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: kyn on September 02, 2013, 00:27:15
 :)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: merc on September 03, 2013, 12:06:48
Snippets from Google Books (Sorry for lack of more details, as these are only available in snippet form, and it's not always easy searching for the surrounding text).

The History of the Second, Queen's Royal Regiment, Now the Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment, Volume 7, Part 1

"In November 1914, the Battalion moved to Rochester, where it was split up - Headquarters and "A" Company at Fort Clarence, and a company in each of the forts-Horsted, Borstal, Bridgewood."

"In May, 1915, the Battalion moved to camp in the vicinity of Fort Bridgewood — Battalion headquarters being in Fort Bridgewood — and remained under canvas until the autumn when it moved back into the forts. Whilst at Bridgewood the first zeppelin bombing raid over Chatham took place - the zeppelin appeared to be hit by a shell and was driven off with its nose in the air."
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: cliveh on March 26, 2014, 10:57:43
Aerial view of the fort from 1946;

cliveh
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: merc on March 26, 2014, 13:58:13
Thanks for adding the image Cliveh :)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: kyn on March 26, 2014, 16:52:01
Cliveh, what is the source of these images?  :)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: JohnG on March 26, 2014, 17:04:53
KCC have put their collection of 1946 aerial photographs of Kent and O.S. maps on the web:

http://www.kent.gov.uk/KCC.EploreKent.Web.Sites.Public/Default.aspx


Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: kyn on March 26, 2014, 17:21:05
Thank you JohnG!
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: cliveh on March 26, 2014, 18:32:13
The link is broken at the moment!! :(
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: merc on March 27, 2014, 12:34:54
Photo's of the AAOR (Anti Aircraft Operations Room) in the fort, later used as a Sub Regional Control centre:

http://collection.subbrit.org.uk/sbc/main.php?g2_itemId=1570
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: kyn on April 21, 2014, 19:37:47
One of the old signs
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: peterchall on April 21, 2014, 21:17:07
I’m intrigued by the reference to the AAOR.

As I’ve posted several times on the forum, it was at the TA Drill Hall on Watling Street when I worked for the Royal Engineers in 1944, when it was known to us as the Gun Operations Room (GOR), although that might not have been its official title – perhaps it was loosely used when the foreman told us there was a job at the ‘GOR’. However the photos are reminiscent of the plotting room there.

I only remember going to Fort Bridgewoods once, and it was then disused and I think we went to recover equipment.

Rochester City Archives record an army lorry being burnt out in there in 1940, and I remember being told by my father that its ATS driver lost her legs.

Is there any record of when the AAOR/GOR moved?

Is there any idea what the ‘Sub-Regional Control Centre was?
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: merc on April 21, 2014, 21:30:02
The fort was handed over to the Home Office in 1961, and until 1967 it was a Sub Regional Control Centre, known as S.R.C. 5.2, for the administration of South East London in case of a Nuclear attack.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: Rochester-bred on April 22, 2014, 07:46:45
I live near Cookham Woods and wondered roughly where abouts the Bridgewood fort was as though I have heard of it I did not know where it was situated,thank you.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: peterchall on April 22, 2014, 08:13:28
The fort was handed over to the Home Office in 1961, and until 1967 it was a Sub Regional Control Centre, known as S.R.C. 5.2, for the administration of South East London in case of a Nuclear attack.
Thanks :)

For some reason I assumed the Ops Room had moved from Fort Bridgewoods to Watling Street before I started work with the REs in January 1944, perhaps  because of the fort being unused when I went there.

However, the one at Watling Street was an adaptation of the TA Drill Hall and on the surface, whereas the photos show the one at  Bridgewoods was obviously purpose built and underground. So the movement must have been the other way, despite it being late in the war – I left the REs in early 1945.

Could that account for the change in name from the one I knew – ‘Gun Operations Room’ – to ‘Anti-Aircraft Operations Room’ (ie-not necessarily for guns)?
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: drunkenbaker on April 22, 2014, 15:22:00
One of the old signs
Has anyone got any pictures of the features in the ditch please? I used to go into Bridgewoods as a kid and have only sketchy memories of the place. I'm fairly sure we gained access as a result of mining damage or partial demolition as we scrambled down a bank into the ditch. I think there must have been a damaged or modified counterscarp gallery of some kind as we would go down a lot of stairs to get into the casemated area of the fort.

The photos I've seen are good, but they haven't helped me cement in my mind where we used to get in.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: STEVEG4HJE on August 29, 2014, 23:25:13
I wonder if anyone knows how I could contact Graham French who posted some wonderful photographs of Fort Bridgewoods on 28 February 2011. I have just completed writing a book about wireless interception carried out at the fort between 1926 and 1945 and would very much like to speak to Graham to seek his permission to use them. Photos of the Fort are so rare, and this is a good set. I have a number taken just prior to demolition but those taken by Graham are particularly good.
Any help would be most appreciated.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: STEVEG4HJE on August 30, 2014, 11:25:32
The first commanding officer of the wireless interception station that was established at Fort Bridgewoods in 1926 was Lt Lionel Attwell Beale MBE. Beale was born into a medical family, his father a consultant and his grandfather a medical professor. He was commissioned into the Hampshire Regiment at the outbreak of World War 1 and following following considerable front line service he transferred to the Royal Engineers as a signals officer and by 1917 was involved in wireless interception from Salonika where he received a mention in despatches. Following his demon he joined the Marconi Company as a wireless engineer but was retained on the Regular Army Reserve of Officers. Beale developed the first duplex radio transmission equipment which permitted two way telephone communication by wireless. This was demonstrated in 1924 to a reporter from The Times when tests were carried out between Holland and England. Beale took up the appointment as Officer in Charge of Fort Bridgewoods in March 1926 with the rank of Lieutenant in the Royal Signals reserve. He developed a number of important interception techniques and built much of the equipment that was used by his small band of five Experimental Wireless Assistants. During his time as OiC he had a constant battle to keep the Government Code and Cypher School (later to become GCHQ) interested in their work as the code breakers much preferred the printed text of international cable interception to the hand written scripts from wireless interception. Money was always an issue and many of the early receiver components were made from metal recovered from the brass shutters in the magazine rooms!
Beale married locally and the wedding took place at Rochester Cathedral. The family home was on the Chatham Maidstone Road directly opposite to the entrance of Fort Horsted. Beale would have been able to walk along the pathway of the defunct narrow gauge railway to reach his place of work each day. The house was marked out by two large aerial masts and Beale kept a workshop into which the family were not allowed. Beale had taken out an Amateur Radio licence in 1912.
Sadly Beale died suddenly at a very young age in 1934. His funeral was conducted by the Rector of Chatham and attended by representatives of the 'Y' Committee and MI1b as well as fellow Freemasons. The bearer party was found from the operators at Fort Bridgewoods. He is buried in the Fort Pitt Military Burial Ground on City Way.
In 1933 he was honoured by the award of the MBE.(Military Division) for his pioneering secret wireless work. He was invested at Buckingham Palace by King George V.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: merc on February 26, 2016, 11:50:18
I think some of the 1907 Siege Works photos earlier in this thread "may be" at Fort Luton.

The photo's have either "B" or "L" followed by numbers (Bridgewoods/Luton). Also the date on "L1 and L2" matches articles on Fort Luton.

(During the Siege Operations two temporary blockhouses were built in the ditches, which is what may be seen in the photos).

Apologies if this was already known about.
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: Derek harrison on November 21, 2017, 20:56:30
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/IMG_8355Large.jpg)
Title: Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
Post by: Roseann on November 22, 2017, 07:39:10
Fort Bridgewood in the 40s and now .