Castles, Fortresses & Associated Works => Further Castles, Fortresses & Associated Works => Topic started by: WildWeasel on April 05, 2009, 11:01:56

Title: Fort Halstead
Post by: WildWeasel on April 05, 2009, 11:01:56
Fort Halsted was pretty locked down at least in the Eighties..When I worked for GEC Marconi Avionics I had to sign the official Secrets act as did everyone who worked there.
Some years later I was involved in a project which required the next level up of screening which was no problem and gave me the MOD sites I needed to visit. EOD at Chattenden was one regular as was RAF Lineham in Wiltshire and Stirling Lines, Hereford

When it came to visiting Halsted it was a big NO !
I cant find anything in family history that  would cause problems apart from the fact that my Maternal Grandfather was in Russia around the time of the revolution...
I suspect it may have been due to the fact that I naively joined a CND march in Chatham when I was younger...

One story regarding Halsted that used to do the rounds was that the Lockerbie Pan AM 747 was re-assembled there.....

Title: Re: Fort Halstead
Post by: david on April 11, 2009, 19:47:53
I was not allowed to take any photos unfortunately. E.H. have undertaken a full survey however and perhaps they will release the report eventually. Some of the casemates have been converted to test cells but are mostly intact. The ditch has been filled in places but will be dug by the developer as part of the agreement with E.H.

Almost the same plan? This is how the fort is now! The nuclear facility is outside the fort.

Title: Re: Fort Halstead
Post by: david on April 12, 2009, 10:51:15
The Ammunition Laboratory alongside the central traverse was added in 1915. The fort was sold to a retired Colonel Bradshaw in 1922. He lived in the laboratory. Scouts and Guides used the fort as a camp. The War Office re-purchased the fort in 1937. The plans may date from this period. It was used to fill 3-inch AA rockets.
Title: Re: Fort Halstead
Post by: clive on November 15, 2009, 20:11:59
Have a look at this site for details of Fort Halsted (

Title: Re: Fort Halstead
Post by: Islesy on December 02, 2009, 16:29:59
A new era of threat leads to new technology in use: (
Title: Re: Fort Halstead
Post by: kyn on May 14, 2010, 20:51:41
Fort Halstead was considered obsolete by 1921 and was put up for sale.  On the 8th of November 1921 the fort sold for 1,450 after being described as a: Delightful little country retreat.  The fort was sold by Messrs. Weatherall and Green from Chancery Lane.
Title: Re: Fort Halstead
Post by: kyn on May 14, 2010, 21:29:28
Title: Re: Fort Halstead
Post by: cliveh on May 16, 2010, 18:14:00
I lived in Dunton Green, just down the road from "The Fort", for 17 years '67-'84. Test explosions from there used to make the buildings in the village shake!

My Dad joined the MOD Police Club up there -  cheap drinks all at NAAFI prices. Through this we were often  invited to the Fort Fireworks Display - now they what you called a "REAL" fireworks show. All the fireworks were produced at the Fort and the display commenced with the most tremendous explosion with Guy sitting at the top of the bonfire being blown 100ft up in the air and the bonfire in seconds a ball of flames which lasted all night.  The fireworks made the ground shake and lit up the skies for miles around! :)
Title: Re: Fort Halstead
Post by: seafordpete on May 16, 2010, 18:53:57
I had a friend who worked there in the 1970s, he had some photos from the camera referred to (or one similar) showing fired bullets in flight- it even showed the shockwaves in the air streaming away from the nose. Speed would be around 1800-2000 ft /sec,  some 12-1400mph
Title: Re: Fort Halstead
Post by: Tom Burnham on August 30, 2010, 22:50:06
Reading the postings on military research at Fort Halstead reminds me that Fort Halstead was only one of a chain of forts south of London built in the mid-Victorian period - the others in Kent included Fort Farningham (533671) and Fort Westerham (about 436576, I think).  As I understand it, they were intended as mustering points for infantry, rather than heavily fortified artillery positions.

I wonder if anyone has any recent information on their condition?


Tom Burnham, Staplehurst, Kent
Title: Re: Fort Halstead
Post by: cliveh on August 31, 2010, 09:24:34
Hi Tom Burnham

According to Victor Smith in his book "Front Line Kent" the Westerham Fort has been pretty much destroyed or "mutilated" as he put's it. Farningham he says is in much better condition. Both forts are now on private property so access to check current conditions could be difficult.

Title: Re: Fort Halstead
Post by: david on August 31, 2010, 18:31:02
The most up-todate information that I have is here: (
Title: Re: Fort Halstead
Post by: yeoman on June 04, 2011, 21:25:45
It's in Surrey but there's a mobilisation centre/fort of the same vintage, now restored and in National Trust ownership at Reigate, although it's only open for guided tours.

"Built in 1898, Reigate Fort was never designed as a conventional armed stronghold. It was originally called a Mobilisation Centre, as its main role was to supply tools and ammunition to enable soldiers, volunteers and contractors to dig entrenched positions along a designated section of the North Downs." TQ257521

I had thought Halstead was armed in some way, if only because it is sited at the mouth of the Darrent Valley.  The casemates also suggest, to me at least, that it was intended as more than a simple store
Title: Re: Fort Halstead
Post by: kyn on January 25, 2012, 19:18:36
Rocket Expert, Dr. L.W.J. Newman, who was Senior Principal Scientific Officer at the Ministry of Supply Rocket Establishment at this fort resigned in May 1948.  During WWII he served in the R.A.F. Research Development Arm.
Title: Re: Fort Halstead
Post by: Geoff B on April 20, 2012, 13:14:27
Fort Halstead was one of the Y stations in Kent that intercepted and listened to Enemy Enigma Code messages in world war 2 . The morse code messages were then taken to Bletchley Park for the codebreakers to work on.

The other Y Station in Kent was Fort Bridgewoods. This work was Top secret and only recently declassified. The Germans never realized we had decoded these message.

Please see more information on this secret operation on this link to Fort Bridgewoods   (

Bletchley Park is well worth a visit. Some of the code breakers are there still and explain what it is all about. Kent can be proud of its contribution to this codebreaking activity. What was found out was stunning. (
Title: Re: Fort Halstead
Post by: cliveh on September 27, 2015, 15:12:08
Just to clarify the previous post - the 'Y' Station was at Ivy Farm, Knockholt - not at Fort Halstead

Title: Re: Fort Halstead
Post by: HERB COLLECTOR on July 08, 2016, 20:04:38
Fort Halstead, Dunton Green, Sevenoaks, Kent
A brief assessment of the role of Fort Halstead in Britain's early rocket programmes and the atomic bomb project
Research Department report series no. 49-2010
Wayne D Cocroft. English Heritage. Pdf file 560KB. (
Title: Re: Fort Halstead
Post by: HERB COLLECTOR on August 13, 2016, 17:07:28
Inside the secret world of explosives forensics.

Blink and you miss the turning. There are no signs to announce its whereabouts, just a leafy lane in rural Kent that ends with a chain-link fence, a gate guarded by police and a visitors' reception.

The UK government's Forensic Explosive Laboratories (FEL) at Fort Halstead is clearly not a place that likes to advertise.

Yet here, in this sprawling collection of red brick MOD buildings, pristine laboratories and curious ventilation chimneys, close to 2,000 pieces of evidence are brought in for forensic examination each year.

Continue @ (

Title: Re: Fort Halstead
Post by: Dave Smith on August 14, 2016, 14:50:08
H.C. When I returned to Kent as a sales engineer in 1966, I used to call at Fort Halstead, which was then the R.(Royal) A.(Armament) R.(Research) & D.(Development) E.(Establishment). I was always strictly escorted to the particular engineer that I had come to see but when I'd finished, left to find my own way out! 
Title: Re: Fort Halstead
Post by: MOD Historian on January 02, 2017, 10:19:43
Does anyone have any information about the period between 1921 and 1937 when Fort Halstead was in private hands? It is said to have been used for scout camps, but which troops might that be and were any photographs taken? There is a certain amount available about Lt Col Bradshaw who owned the old fort, but what about the Allports who owned the caretaker's cottages just outside. I've only seen one photograph from that period which is in the Sevenoaks Historical Dictionary produced by Professor David Kilingray, but I'm sure by the 1930's that cameras would have been much more available and affordable to 'the masses'.