Castles, Fortresses & Associated Works => Medway => Topic started by: merc on September 17, 2009, 12:10:32

Title: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: merc on September 17, 2009, 12:10:32
Monday, March 17, 1969

Robert Palmer, aged 5 of King's Bastion, Brompton, Gillingham, was drowned yesterday when he fell into a disused reservor. A friend, Christopher Morgan, aged 5 of Singapore Drive, Brompton, who also fell in, was rescued by an army Corporal.

(No other information)


It might be the old Couvre-Porte Reservoirs at Brompton ??? but as it doesn't say, i can't be sure.
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: bromptonboy on September 19, 2009, 09:07:39
I remember this incident very well. It was certainly the Couvre Port Reservoir where it occurred. I lived in Brompton and us boys used to go fishing in the reservoirs for the very large Perch that were there. The reservoirs were far from disused as the Dockyard still used them to store water for the non-drinking water system in the Dockyard and we had to dodge the Dockyard Police and other workers on occasions! After the tragedy the fences were strengthened considerably but we still got in!
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: merc on September 19, 2009, 09:32:05
Cheers Brompton Boy  :)
I can just remember the reservoirs being full of water back in the 80's.

Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: Leofwine on October 11, 2010, 23:26:21
Can anyone remember when the footbridge across the reservoir from the tennis courts to the cricket ground was closed (and removed?)

And was this (and the other existing footbridge from the tennis courts to the hard courts near the army housing) originally part of the Victorian park mentioned in this thread: http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=3288.0
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: bromptonboy on October 12, 2010, 11:49:22
The bridge went about 1997/98? The original extent of the Garrison Officers' Gardens was a lot larger than one would think. It took in all of the exsiting area of the Tennis Courts, all the the Maxwell Road Paddock area, Kings Bastion, Inner Lines and up into the Spur Battery. Bridges linked across the ditches out onto the open grassland of what we now call the Great Lines.
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: Leofwine on October 12, 2010, 17:03:35
I was up there today and was pleased to see the link to the Lines was open again (in a way) I did something I rarely do these days and went from the tennis courts across the footbridge to the hard Courts and found the gates open to allow access from King's Bastion (The road, not the fortification).  There is quite a good view of the reservoir from the hard courts.
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: Leofwine on October 12, 2010, 17:14:58
We know that for many years there were reservoirs in the ditches around Prince of Wales Bastion and over part of the Hornwork leading towards King's Bastion. I understand they were built to supply water for the Dockyard when it expanded, and from something merc said in 1880, they were looking at several possible sites and plans for a new reservoir for water, for the Victorian Extension at the dockyard.  What I'm wondering is does anyone know when they were actually built?

And a related question: The southern part of the hornwork was under the reservoir, but was that part of the hornwork physically removed or just buri
ed?
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: merc on October 12, 2010, 21:18:11
(http://i232.photobucket.com/albums/ee257/mercury1923/CouvrePorteReservoirMap1.jpg)

From a 1943 map (i think)
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: Leofwine on October 12, 2010, 21:37:49
Well that shows they were definitely there by 1943!!!  I'd also forgotten about the branch that ran up the side of Spur Battery! 

The Map also answers another mystery - the location of the bandstand on Prince of Wales Bastion. Anyone happen to know when it was removed?

Do you have any more of that map?
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: merc on October 12, 2010, 21:43:37
Do you have any more of that map?

I have. I'll copy some more of it and put it in another thread sometime.
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: Leofwine on October 12, 2010, 22:09:15
Thanks, I'd be very interested in seeing how the area of the old Garrison Gardens looked at that time.

The original extent of the Garrison Officers' Gardens was a lot larger than one would think. It took in all of the exsiting area of the Tennis Courts, all the the Maxwell Road Paddock area, Kings Bastion, Inner Lines and up into the Spur Battery. Bridges linked across the ditches out onto the open grassland of what we now call the Great Lines.
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: Leofwine on October 13, 2010, 02:59:53
I just noticed the reservoirs are there on the 1938 map kyn posted here http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=412.msg4554#msg4554 so they are definitely pre-ww2.
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: merc on October 13, 2010, 12:18:52
And a related question: The southern part of the hornwork was under the reservoir, but was that part of the hornwork physically removed or just buried?


I think that side of the hornwork was completely destroyed rather than just buried.
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: Leofwine on October 14, 2010, 18:11:14
I poked around in City Ark today, but they didn't have much info on the reservoirs. Sadly no maps before the 1932 map I have which they are shown on, and no written record of their building. The only reference I found to them was a book on the history of the dockyard mentioning the Bromption reservoir (Prospect Row/Brompton Hill one) appears on an 1832 map and was removed in 1966 when it was turned into a playground. The only refence to the Fort Reservoirs mentions that they were built after 1888 and water was pumped up to them from two wells in the dockyard and gravity fed back to the yard as needed.

So their building date was
 somewhere between 1888 and 1932.
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: merc on October 16, 2010, 19:34:44
Here's some pics of the very overgrown Spur Battery Reservoir. Some of the forts volunteers were in them today clearing some of the walls, and part of the Spur Battery, where another new bridge will eventually be built, reinstating the old link from the Prince of Wales Bastion, to the Spur Battery.

(http://i232.photobucket.com/albums/ee257/mercury1923/Reservoir2.jpg)

(http://i232.photobucket.com/albums/ee257/mercury1923/Reservoir3.jpg)

(http://i232.photobucket.com/albums/ee257/mercury1923/Reservoir1.jpg)
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: Chatham_Girl85 on October 16, 2010, 20:28:16
Would that have been a tunnel to somewhere merc?
I mean the bricked up hole in the wall of the last photo?
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: merc on October 16, 2010, 20:48:52
Nope, not a tunnel Chatham Girl85.

It's where some of the masonry (???) has come away from the brickwork. There wasn't a wall there originally when those ditches were built for the fortifications. The wall was added to seperate some of the ditches when they were made into reservoirs. Behind that wall is the Couvre Porte Reservoir.
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: kyn on January 31, 2011, 13:57:12
This information has been requested, which is why I have posted newspaper reports from The Times instead of re-writing them.

21st November 1870
For some time past the War department have had men engaged in boring in a field adjacent to the Gun Wharf at Chatham, with the view of ascertaining if a supply of good water could be obtained there for the use of the various Government establishments.  As yet water has not been reached, but the boring has proved that there would be a good foundation for buildings and machinery at the spot, and it is expected that water will be obtained of good quality, though the site is not far from the river, which is quite salt at Chatham.  Should good water be got it will be pumped up to a reservoir, to be made on the neighbouring lofty hill, and thense distributed to the barracks, Gun Wharf, Fort Pitt, &c.  Government has waterworks in the Dockyard, and a reservoir on Brompton Hill, but the supply has been found insufficient for all the Government establishments at Chatham, and for some time past a large supply has been taken from the Chatham Water Company at a considerable yearly cost.

21st August 1871
Every Summer the Sanitary Committee of Officers are active in looking after the proper cleansing and purification of the military barracks at Chatham; but this season, from the apprehensions of a visit of cholera, they are, if possible, more vigilant and active than usual.  All the refuse is promptly removed, the drains are flushed almost daily, and there is an unstinted use of chloride of lime wherever it is deemed necessary.  The barracks un Chatham have had a full supply of pure water from the Chatham Water Company, the Government having just entered into a contract for a supply of water by the company for ten years to every public establishment where it is required, and already large quantities are consumed in the barracks and at the St. Mary’s Convict Prison, and probably the Dockyard will receive a supply for domestic purposes, the Government water supply not having proved adequate at Chatham.

19 August 1878
For many months past boring operations have been going on at the extension works at Chatham Dockyard, to see if fresh water could be obtained for use in the yard, instead of being supplied bu the Chatham Water Company, as at present, and on Thursday afternoon the efforts of the party were crowned with success, a beautiful stream of water being discovered at a depth of over 903ft., upon a bed of green sand, and just below 18ft. of rock, which had to be cut through.  When the water can be utilized a great saving of money will be effected.  The operations have been carried on under the direction of Mr. E. A. Bernays, the superintending civil engineer.

Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: Leofwine on January 31, 2011, 18:25:46
Great info Kyn, thanks.

It would suggest that the reservoirs didn't go in until after 1878, although that now makes a third possible date for my list!

I know the Government Reservoir on Brompton Hill went in in 1832, but the Couvre Porte Reservoirs are proving much harder to track down. Your info would suggest the possible date I had of c.1843 (which I was a little dubious of) is out, but the other date I found of after 1889 seems rather late if they sourced the water supply in 1878. Unless of course the initially used the water supply direct, but later decided to use it to supply a reservoir.

Just to throw a further spanner in the works bromptonboy mentioned having seen a document from the 1850s or 60s mentioning a spur from the Admiralty reservoir supplying the barracks. Could it be that the 'Admiralty Reservoir' in his document is referring to the one at the top of Brompton Hill?
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: Charles on January 31, 2011, 18:45:15
The couvre porte reservoir was built soon after 1898 when the Navy acquired the land from the Army. It would appear that the army was already using some of the ditches to hold water and of course the two services could not be allowed to use the same water! The reservoirs appear to have been a grey water supply for use in cleaning barracks, fire fighting etc but not drinking. The context for the construction would appear to be the very large naval barracks built at this date i.e.HMS Pembroke now the Universities at Medway.
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: Leofwine on January 31, 2011, 18:56:07
That's interesting information Charles, thank you. And date wise it might tie in with another feature in the area. It seems sometime between 1897 and 1903 the original footbridge from Prince of Wales Bastion to the Lines was removed and a new pair of footbridges were put in crossing close to the ends of the reservoir. I wonder if the bridge being removed/replaced was associated with the building of the reservoirs somehow?

I also wonder if the 1843 date I found was when the Army started using the ditches for water storage perhaps?
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: kyn on March 04, 2012, 22:35:01
Here is a plan dated 1901 which shows the reservoirs in use.
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/DSCF8370Large.jpg)
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: merc on March 04, 2012, 22:59:45
Nice plan :)

It shows the old bridge across the Spur Battery Reservoir, next to where the Tennis Clubhouse was built in 1903.
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: Leofwine on March 04, 2012, 23:04:01
It also shows the observatory on King's Bastion, and suggests it may have had multiple observation domes.
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: merc on March 05, 2012, 00:06:00
It looks likes the left, front ditch (below/left of where it says Large Small) of the Hornwork was intact, at that time. So it must have been filled in later.
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: Leofwine on March 05, 2012, 02:07:48
The diagonal path across the inner lines is also still intact, so the terracing had not occurred there by 1901. The military burial ground is also still shown.
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: Leofwine on October 15, 2016, 00:54:22
Can anyone remember when the reservoirs were drained? I remember them still having water in them in the early 80s, but Google Earth shows them drained by 1990, so I'm guessing the mid to late 80s. Can anyone narrow the date down any more?
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: Bilgerat on October 16, 2016, 09:44:16
As mentioned earlier in this thread, the reservoir at Fort Amherst was used to supply Chatham Dockyard with non-potable water. Potable water came from the well at Luton. You can tell the difference as you walk around the Chatham Historic Dockyard. Some stopcock covers in the ground are marked 'Luton Water' - these are for potable water, while others are marked 'Dockyard Water' and these were for non-potable water.

I can't give an exact date for when the reservoirs were drained, but I would imagine it would be in the late 1980's. I remember exploring Fort Amherst as a teenager in the very early 1980's (I remember that at the time, the Dockyard was still open) and the reservoir was full then. When I explored it again, it was after closure, I was in my early 20's but it was before I got married in 1989 and it was drained by then. That narrows it down to some time between 1986 and 1989.

The live fire hydrants in the Dockyard are now fed from the potable water supply and I think that the former 'Dockyard Water' stopcocks are now dead.
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: smiffy on January 24, 2017, 20:49:55

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QExRDaw1LI

Lots of other interesting stuff on this Youtube channel.

Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: Dave Smith on January 26, 2017, 13:28:53
smiffy. Watched that video-as you say, interesting. But I couldn't relate it to Chatham lines, altogether much to big I thought? I must have missed him saying exactly where it was( pity he didn't show a map) for he did say what- but not where- the RAF Radar station was called on another video.
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: smiffy on January 26, 2017, 14:26:06
Take a look at kyn's post #21 - the map shows you where they were exploring.
Title: Re: Reservoirs in Chatham Lines Ditches
Post by: bromptonboy on January 26, 2017, 16:58:12
These are the naval reservoirs on the Lines. One section was known as the Couvre Port reservoir and was split into two sections. The other section was contained in the ditch that ran up the face of the Spur Battery and was hence known as the Spur Battery reservoir. Many hours spent dodging the Admiralty Police during the summer holidays as a kid when we used to go fishing in the reservoir for some quite large perch.