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Author Topic: Archcliffe Fort, Dover  (Read 14361 times)

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Offline kyn

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Re: Archcliffe Fort, Dover
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2014, 19:29:34 »
A few more :)

Offline kyn

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Re: Archcliffe Fort, Dover
« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2014, 19:27:58 »
Some photos from a visit today.

Offline kyn

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Re: Archcliffe Fort, Dover
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2013, 19:05:29 »
1787

Plan and section of a Powder Magazine in Archcliff Fort, Dover

N.B.  The end walls AA are made more than the usual thickness to resist the shock of shells on shot which in this situation the magazine might be exposed to.


Offline Islesy

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Re: Archcliffe Fort, Dover
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2009, 11:49:38 »
If anyone is interested, I have produced a layered overlay in Photoshop PSD format using David's Plan and the DDC present day plan. It weighs in at around 12mb, so if anyone wants one for research purposes let me know your email address and I'll send one through.
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Offline unfairytale

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Re: Archcliffe Fort, Dover
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2009, 22:13:49 »
These photos were taken in the right-hand room, although there is another small storeroom right next to the huge arch.
 
Blast wall


Rear of room.


Cut in side wall. The tunnel leads to an identical room although without a blast wall at the entrance.
When you've got your back to wall, there's only one thing to do and that's to turn around and fight. (John Major)
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Offline Islesy

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Re: Archcliffe Fort, Dover
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2009, 21:33:27 »
The shelters are now disused, being full of various bits of track related junk. They certainly pre-date WWII, as the Entrance Blast Walls have been added afterwards, all are lined with the exception of the most westerly of the four which has been excavated by pick, and are very similar to small casemates. The middle two are connected by a rough hewn, dog legged tunnel, about 60 yards long.

Unfairytale has pictures of the interiors and the Blast Walls, so here are a couple of the connecting tunnel.



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Offline Islesy

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Re: Archcliffe Fort, Dover
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2009, 16:01:32 »
Whilst sheltering from the Force 8 storm last night, UFT & I took a close look at this structure:

Built directly under the moat, the first impression is that it is a blocked off tunnel portal, however, scraping around in the ground we found a semi-circular brick structure that mirrors the curve of the 'portal' on the ground. The bricks were of the same yellow, well engineered and were placed on end - suggesting that they were the edging to a pit structure (certainly weren't foundations as they were finished edges). We speculated that either it was a huge gun pit, or, as seems more likely, was a turntable of some sort,
the portal being an elaborate 'finishing' to the now truncated moat.

Two things would seem to support the turntable theory: In David's plan, top left (and to the left of the Moncrieff Pit) is a rail spur terminating in a circle (and the dotted line would represent what we uncovered on the ground).

Secondly, I found this passage relating to the former Dover Town Station: "The SER ran into what later became known as 'Dover Town' station, and between here and Shakespeare Tunnel, the double-track line was elevated upon a wooden framework. The SER?s Town station was a large affair, comprising five tracks entering the terminus from the west, all of which were protected by a large twin-span overall roof. Substantial three-storey-high railway offices backed onto the rear of the platform lines, these being constituted of the customary yellow brick, lined at the edges with stone." This would indicate that the yellow brick was a trademark use of the
 SER in building permanent structures.

Can anyone throw any further light on this? Would be nice to be able to say for certain what this was, and how it related to the track layout.
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Offline Islesy

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Re: Archcliffe Fort, Dover
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2009, 15:39:40 »
Curiosity aroused, Unfairytale & I took a look at the Air Raid Shelters/Railway Stores and Archway last night (but more of that later). It would be fair to say that more questions were raised than answered, but for now here are a few bits for folks to peruse.

Current aerial view of Archcliffe Fort along with David's plan that I've orientated to roughly the same angle and perspective.



A reasonably up to date 1:1250 scale plan



Plans relating to Emmaus's extension to the shop - this replaced a dilapidated timber building.



If you're really interested, I do have higher resolution versions for reference purposes - a donation to the website slush fund secures!!
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Offline david

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Re: Archcliffe Fort, Dover
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2009, 17:12:07 »
There are gun eplacements for the RML guns mounted on A pivot and C pivot mountings firing through earth merlons.
They were for 10-inch RMLs. The Moncrieff was for a 7-inch RML later changed to a 7-inch RBL.
I have put the datasheet for Archcliffe fort under the Dover section here:
http://www.palmerstonforts.org.uk/rese.htm
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Offline david

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Re: Archcliffe Fort, Dover
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2009, 19:10:19 »
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Offline Riding With The Angels

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Re: Archcliffe Fort, Dover
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2009, 20:14:54 »
One of the volunteers killed in 1860 is remembered on this memorial at Shepherdswell Church -



It reads -

In memory of George Thomas Thompson second son of Edward Thompson Esq. of Dover who was killed by the bursting of a cannon at Arch Cliff Fort whislt in the discharge of his duty as Lieutenant in the 1st Cinque Ports Volunteers 9th August 1860 aged 51. And whos remains are interred in the family vault in this church. He was coroner for Dover, Registrar for the harbour, and held other public offices. And both in
his public and private character was greatly beloved and respected. This tablet is erected by his sorrowing widow. 'It is the Lord. Let him do what seemeth him good'. 'Then they are glad because they are at rest'.

Offline kyn

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Archcliffe Fort, Dover
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2008, 09:46:19 »
Some information I put together...

In 1370 a watchtower was built on the current site of Archcliffe (Erclyve) Fort also known as Archcliffe Castle, the watchtower was surrounded by a ditch and a chalk bank, building was by 50 men costing 15 and took 40 days to complete.  This tower stood until 1539 when orders were given to construct a substantial Bulwark on the site by Henry VIII and the following year it was manned by a captain and 2 soldiers.  This armament consisted of 1 demi-culverin, 2 sakers of brass, 1 fowler of iron, 3 single serpentines and 12 bases.

The bulwark fell into disrepair over the following years till 1568 when repairs were made on the captains lodging.  The armament consisting of mostly muzzleloaders were 1 saker of brass, 1 culverin of iron (without stock), 4 demi-culverins of iron, 3 sakers of iron and 6 slings of iron were mounted.  Repairs were again made during 1588 during a threat of invasion by the Spanish Armada with added strengthening to the Bulwark, a report by the captain stated that the gatehouse, ramparts and the two flanks securing the seaward trenches were in decay.  The repairs costing 50 were completed in 1594.

The cliff below the Bulwark was cut away during 1626 to prevent the enemy scaling it during an invasion, at the time the threat of invasion was high due to the French being very unhappy with the treatment of Queen Henrietta, Charles I wife, by the English.  15 years later the defences were repaired again with an additional wall being built around the Bulwark with a platform and parapet.  The wall was 20 feet high, built of brick, and stood on the edge of the 7 feet deep and 18 feet wide ditch.  A 'carte of guarde', a gatehouse and accommodation for soldiers, was also built with all building works costing 3000.  The wall began to collapse after a short while due to it being badly constructed and repairs were undertaken within a year to save it before any major damage was inflicted, this cost a further 1.6s.3d.

In 1657 Captain Baker was in command of the Fort on a salary of 1s.4d, approximately 7p per day, other wages at the fort were for 4 gunners and 2 soldiers each paid 6d, around 2.5p per day.  3 years later the garrison consisted of:

A Captain on 8s (40p) per day
A Lieutenant on 4s (20p) per day
1 Ensign on 3s (15p) per day
1 Sergeant on 15.6p (7.5p) per day
2 Corporals on 1s (5p) per day
60 Soldiers on 8d (3.3p) per day
1 Drummer on 10d (4.2p) per day
1 Gunner on 1s.6d (7.5p) per day
2 Maltrosses (assistant gunners) on 10d (4.2p) per day

As well as this the fort was allocated 6d (2.5p) for coal and candles for the guards.  An order was issued in June 1661 to reduce the garrison at the fort to a Captain, Lieutenant and four Gunners, wages were estimated at 73 per annum with a candle and coal allowance of 1.10s (1.50).  5 years later the plague was at its peak and the garrison at the fort was so worried, it was said, they lit fires, fired guns and rang bells to scare it away.

The fort again needed repair during December 1689, a report described how the defensive walls, and gun platforms urgently needed repair works as did the garrison's accommodation.  The forts armament at this time was 13 heavy iron guns.

On 31st March 1692 the Constable of Dover Castle, Viscount Sidney, appointed Colonel Richard Smyth as the Captain of Archcliffe Fort.  The board of Ordinance calculated the fort should hole 5" barrels of gun powder in reserve in 1740, and five years later the authorities ordered barracks to be built on site with 2 new guard houses and to raise the parapet in 1756, the following year as work commenced troop accommodation was again reviewed, consequently new barracks were completed as a matter of urgency.  In November of the same year Sir Thomas Hyde, the Commanding Engineer, forwarded a request for 1200 to modernise the fort.

The armament of the fort in 1783 was comprised of 6 x 32pdr guns, 7 x 18pdr guns and 1 x 20in Howitzer, the most damaged carriages were to hold the guns as a saluting battery while the others were put in storage to prevent any further deterioration.  10 years later war with France was imminent this forced an inspection to be undertaken of the defences and accommodation in Dover so damage was repaired quickly.  The 1st Devon Militia arrived by July to relieve the 2nd Queens Regiment who had been in charge of the guns.  The company complained about the quarters at the fort where officers had to monopolise accommodation although the fort could hold a company of 60 men.

The fort was badly damaged in 1794 by exploding weapons when the engineers based at the fort were working on a consignment of canon for an armed cutter, nearby buildings were also affected by the blasts.  The war with France came to an end 8 years later with the negotiated Peace of Amiens, relieving the tension of the people of Dover who had been watching the French Coast with trepidation, unfortunately peace was to last less than a year before war broke out again during the following May.  As the threat of invasion increased money was being spent on the defences, despite Archcliffe Fort being considered obsolete due to the building of defences on the Western Heights it was decided to keep the fort armed until the new defences were operational.

125 of the local towns people were chosen by Duke of Wellington, also Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, to form a company of volunteers, this company was under the command of Charles Wellard and were to be trained in gunnery at Archcliffe Fort to use any gun mounted at the coastal batteries in Great Britain.  On 7th August they were marched into Archcliffe Fort to swear their allegiance to the King and Country, another company was formed later on in the year for the same purpose, neither company were to get allowances or pay.

Archcliffe Fort was described as inadequate to defend Dover Bay if a landing was attempted in 1803 by Brigadier General Twiss, his opinion was based on the guns being masked by housing, an iron chain was installed between the fort and the pier heads across the harbour in April the following year and a ditch was dug from Guilford Battery to New Bridge to improve defences.  During July of the same year a new road was completed between Dover and Folkestone, this resulted in a new battery of guns being installed to face inland towards Folkestone, the battery consisted of 2 x 18pdr corronades on traversing carriages, this armament was in addition to 5 x 32pdr and 6 x 12pdr guns which had been in place since the outbreak of the war.

The fort often fired on French Privateers that came into the harbour to attack our ships, the Times reported on 20th January 1804 that 'The enemy's privateers constantly at low water infest our coast, and so daring are they that two of them came to anchor abreast of our harbour.  The sea fencibles went to the batteries but were prevented from going to the guns by the sentinels who alleged that no persons should touch the guns without an order from Lord Forbes, the commanding general, who unfortunately was in Canterbury'.  In 1808 a gun in the fort blew up whilst engaged in fire with the French Privateers, this resulted in 2 artillery men being injured, a local surgeon was called and after treating the men he submitted his bill, the surgeon was still demanding payment of 7s.6d in September 1811 so it is unlikely he was ever paid.  Further improvements to the fort were taken during the war with over 450 being spent on the parapet being repaired and a further ?500 used to construct additional guardrooms.  In 1814 and 1815 more work was undertaken building a defensible flanked entrance and repairs to the gateway.

In October 1815 there was a discussion regarding the disarming of the batteries in the bay as they were considered not essential for general defence as the batteries of Guilford and Archcliffe "afford a powerful fire from the flanks of the bay, and as the cliffs under Drop Redoubt presents an excellent situation for as many batteries as may be thought of necessary to bear on the entrance of the harbour and to command the whole beach."  The recommendation was to keep the Fort be kept operational with 5 heavy and 12 light guns mounted as a sea battery during peacetime.

A military report in 1830 described the fort as 'an irregular enclosed work, situated above the cliffs.  To the landward two bastions and a ditch protect it, with a demi-bastion on the eastern side.  On the seaward side was a faussebray to facilitate four guns on garrison carriages and for musketry.  In the main work there were sixty-five curbs for traversing platforms, all of which are reported as being unserviceable'.

October 1840 saw the military rushing to ready troop accommodation and see that guns were mounted in the batteries as the threat of war with Europe became a possibility.  The Dover Telegraph reported that gates were to be erected at the bridge over the South Ditch leading to Shakespear Cliff on 28th November with notices being sent out to premises and tenants within the protected area to quit so to lengthen the ditch around the fort further.  The Prince Consort enjoyed the view from the fort prior to leaving Dover for a trip to the continent on 11th April 1844.  During the spring of the same year the South Eastern Railway dug two short tunnels underneath the South West corner of the fort so they could extend the tracks to Dover.

Colonel Tylden reported in 1847 stated the fort was armed with 6 x 32pdr guns mounted on traversing platforms, the masonry walls were in good order having the appearance of being recently restored.  To aid the general artillery practice at the fort a 32pdr gun was mounted to fire over the rampart.  3 years later a local builder built an oak target to be used by the 12th Battalion Royal Artillery who were stationed at the Heights, it was moored a mile from shore and the local paper commented 'that one shot passed through the mark'. Various Royal Artillery Battalions used the forts battery for practice, many of which were reported in the local papers, one such report read 'unusually excellent' in 1852 when the 6th Battalion fired 240 rounds at the target, this was anchored 1000 feet away in the bay, the target was hit a total of 6 times.

A new adjustment was made to the fort in 1854, musketry galleries were added with access to the galleries through two sally-ports from the forts interior.  The galleries faced the sea and were to aid protection of the ditch if the enemy invaded.

New rules were brought out when the batteries in Dover were in use for practice in 1855.  'Two Black Balls will be hoisted on the flagstaff at the castle on the day of practice, and remain flying until firing commences.  No gun will be fired before 2pm or after 4pm.  In cases of severe illness when the firing would be injurous, it is requested that a note may be sent to the Royal Artillery Officer at Archcliffe Fort by 12.30pm'.   When the noonday firing of Drop Redoubts gun was due the flagstaff at Archcliffe was dipped.

In August 1859 the government appointed a Royal Commission of all the gun batteries in the United Kingdom, the report on Archcliffe Fort read 'an old work constructed in the time of Henry VIII, and very much obstructed by houses, and can only be useful as a sea battery'. During peacetime the Cinque Ports Artillery Volunteer companies
used the fort for practice, July 1860 saw members meet in the town with the band following and marched into the fort for compulsory drill practice.  Their skill at gunnery was commented on in the local paper, it stated, 'on Wednesday evening last some admiral shot practice was performed at Archcliffe Battery.  Twenty Rounds were fired at a target 2.5 feet in diameter, placed at a distance of 900 yards.  Nearly all the shots were extremely well delivered, and in one instance the target was struck'.

On 9th August 1860 2 members of the 1st Cinque Port Artillery Volunteers were killed when a gun exploded, several other members were injured and the town was in shock.  The gun's breach parted just below the trunnion, making the muzzle drop away and the breach blow back 30 metres.  The inquest revealed the 32pdr gun had been considered to be fully operational, even though it was 60 years, old up until the accident.

5 x 10in RML's on Elswick platforms and a 7in RML on a Moncrieff Patt.I disappearing carriage were installed at the fort in 1872, the disappearing carriage was so the gun was concealed when being loaded and raised using counterweights above a 3 metre high parapet when fired.  The armament was updated again in 1884 by installing a 7in RBL on a Moncrieff carriage and with the 5 x 10RML's being remounted on dwarf traversing wrought iron platforms.  Only 3 of the 10in Rmls were still mounted in 1895 with a 64pdr in place for drill, and a 6pdr QF gun replacing the 7in RBL, a machine gun was mounted in 1913, this was the only new addition during the first part of the 20th Century.

The forts low position prevented new ordinance being mounted at the fort, during the First World War, although small calibre quick firing guns were added to prevent the enemy taking shelter at the cliff face.  The fort was manned at this time by D Company 1st Volunteer Battalion, The Buffs, there was 2 NCO's and 9 privates at the fort daily. 

The south west portion of the fort that sat above the railway tunnels was demolished in October 1928 after the railways companies won parliamentary approval to extend the railway and sidings, during the demolition 2 skeletons were found within the eastern most corner under a concrete gun emplacement.

During the run up to WWII the Cinque Ports Royal Engineers were using the fort for parades and meetings, the territorial company along with others used the fort as their headquarters.  As the beginning of the war threatened the fort was again used for training.  The fort was used as a medical centre for the eastern batteries Pier Turret and Breakwater Battery during the war and surprisingly was only slightly damaged by the enemy until 2nd October 1941 when 2 small German bombs destroyed an engine room injuring a soldier.

The fort was decommissioned in 1956 and in 1978 the Ministry of Defence announced their intention of offering the fort to the Department of the Environment, if they didn't want it the fort would be sold on the open market.  The following year the DoE took over the fort and listed it as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.  Despite the building being scheduled the fort was at risk when proposals of new road to Folkestone suggested demolishing part of the fort, after 10 years of the plans being changed and changed again it was finally decided that removing part of the entrance to the fort would be acceptable, this new proposals also including filling in part of the ditch that surrounded the fortification.  In 1990 the earthen ramparts were repaired as well as the eastern bastion. With further repairs being undertaken by English Heritage to repair the roves of the buildings within the fort.

 

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