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Offline Andrew401968

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Re: Cliffe Fort
« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2010, 20:18:51 »
Cheers for the reply David.

Something I was just wondering and I can't find any definite information for it on the Web or in Beanse's book. Does anybody know the location for Brennan's Factory in Gillingham? There is a plan for factory at Kew (WO 28/4415) but the information does not give an exact location. I was wondering if anybody else as looked into this.

The other area that is difficult to pin down specific information on is fire control, I know how the torpedo was controlled, by regulating the speed of two wires, but how were the orders for directing it relayed from the point of observation, which in the case of Cliffe was a retractable coning tower/directing station, to the man or men controlling the speed of the wires. Clearly there must have been a system for relaying this information, because there appears to be no way in which the operator in the engine room could observe the target. Could it be as simple as relaying the orders by word of mouth or was there some sort of mechanical/electrical system?

The coning tower / directing station is another mystery area, as the only solid information/evidence available is the physical remains on site at Cliffe, which consist of a concrete conical ring on the roof, and mental cylinder inside it, and runs down to the roof below (see the pictures posted by Kyn). There appears to be rails inside the cylinder. Below that is another hole, and then pit into which the tower must have retracted. Now this tower must have been heavy, and the means to retract must have used power, unless a system of counter weights where used. Could it have used the steam from the boiler to power postons?

The conical coning tower/ directing tower was sealed, and a pintle installed so that the position could be used as a AA Machine Gun position, probably during its time as a base for the Thames Royal Navy Auxiliary Patrol during WWII.

There is some conflicting information on whether the Fort was armed with anything more substantial. Some sources make no reference to it, such as Saunders and Smith in the Kent Defence Heritage, Hogg says that some or all the 12 pounders remained until after WWII, but this conflict with other sources that say the fort was disarmed around 1927 (Pastscape).  The Palmerston Forts Society Fort Log says 2x 4? BL, and this is confirmed by Smith in Defending London's River, The Story of the Thames Forts. This seems to be confirmed by the modifications to the 6? emplacements, which I?ve seen in photo, and are visible on Google Earth, which consisted of inserting a concrete block so that the smaller 4" BL could be mounted. There are some references to the guns being for Anti-Aircraft Defence, but I think that, for a number of reasons, this seems very unlikely. Firstly, the modified emplacements do not appear to provide full 360 degree traverse, and secondly, everything I have read about 4" HA angle guns, indicates that they were in short supply and desperately needed to provide HA guns for destroyers (many destroyers had one set of torpedo tubes removed and replaced with a single HA 4" gun). The other final factor is that there appears to be evidence that guns were given rear and overhead cover, preventing there use for anything other than Low Angle Fire, however this needs further confirmation.

I would value any comments, or information on any of the points I have made above, especially if there are any know sources that relate to area which remain in the dark or are vague. I think I have look at pretty much every published source, although I have found a couple that I have yet to look at, but I doubt they will add anything new.


Offline david

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Re: Cliffe Fort
« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2010, 18:34:56 »
You are correct Andrew401968 I am reliable informed by 'MyMate' that the plan of Cliffe is WO78/4963 and  is dated 22.6.1899.

Also in the NA is:
WO 78/5434 :  Redham Mead; dock yard; Fort Cliffe, Horsted; Lyton and Darland

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Offline Andrew401968

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Re: Cliffe Fort
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2010, 17:40:32 »
The Cliffe Fort plan is file ADM 78/4963 at the National Archives.

I've pinned the dates down to 1899 to 1918, from the summary at Kew, although the reference you gave me should be prefixed WO. ADM 78/4963 doesn't bring up a reference, but WO 78/4963 does, thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

Offline Andrew401968

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Re: Cliffe Fort
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2010, 16:59:49 »
The Cliffe Fort plan is file ADM 78/4963 at the National Archives.

Hi Kyn, thank you for the information, do you or anybody else have a date for the plans? I am guessing that it's has to be post 1886-87, and that the blank area is due to secrecy surrounding the Brennan Torpedeo and installations. Beanse is unclear on the actual date/year for installation of the station at Cliffe, but he assumes it was soon after the adoption of the system in 1887.

Offline kyn

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Re: Cliffe Fort
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2010, 11:00:05 »
The Cliffe Fort plan is file ADM 78/4963 at the National Archives.

Offline Leofwine

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Re: Cliffe Fort
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2010, 01:09:26 »
I used to go to the fort as a kid.  Dad was/is a keen ornithologist and often used to go out there bird watching.  Whilst he spent hours looking at things fluttering around the mudflats I used to find holes in the fence and go exploring in the fort.  The only time I really worried about the bird life out there was the day we saw the Flamingo colony.
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Offline david

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Re: Cliffe Fort
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2010, 18:00:01 »
An interesting point about these plans is the white(ish) blank area, on both plans, on the left flank, in the area of the location of the 9" RML and their magazines, and the Brennan Torpedo Station. As far as I tell, (based Victor Smiths plan of the Torpedo station) it matches the area occupied by the Boiler and Engine Rooms, and the Water Tank. The torpedo room was outside the original fort, in the ditch, with a passage cut through the wall linking it with Engine Room

You need a copy of Alec Beanse's book on The Brennan Torpedo. In it is a plan of the Brennan installation at Cliffe. The white section on the plan is indeed the Engine Room, Boiler Room and Tank for the Brennan Installation.
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Offline Andrew401968

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Re: Cliffe Fort
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2010, 21:37:09 »


Hi stewyrey, do you know the date for these plans, or there location/source? Was there a plan No. 1?

An interesting point about these plans is the white(ish) blank area, on both plans, on the left flank, in the area of the location of the 9" RML and their magazines, and the Brennan Torpedo Station. As far as I tell, (based Victor Smiths plan of the Torpedo station) it matches the area occupied by the Boiler and Engine Rooms, and the Water Tank. The torpedo room was outside the original fort, in the ditch, with a passage cut through the wall linking it with Engine Room. Another interesting point is the difference between thickness of the walls and surrounding casements, on the northern side facing up river, compared to the one are the fourth one. The casements after, appear to be more open, and the walls are less thick.

Incidentally, I am currently studying Cliffe Fort as a case study on Heritage and Monument Management, specifically ones in private ownership. One of the fundamental problems is balancing the desire to conserve such Monuments, with simple reality of finite resource.  



Offline stewyrey

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Re: Cliffe Fort
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2010, 02:12:15 »

Offline stewyrey

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Re: Cliffe Fort
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2010, 02:07:26 »
Cliffe fort plans,





  Stewyrey.

merc

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Re: Cliffe Fort
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2009, 20:56:13 »
Wednesday,May 30,1877

The garrison at Cliffe Fort has been augumented by a detachment of the Royal Artillary from Sheerness,under the command of Capt. Soames,to assist in the work of extracting one of the 38-ton guns which was capsized into the mud of the foreshore while being landed from the gun barge Magog a few weeks ago,and which gradually sank to a depth of about 8 ft.
In order to rescue the gun a broad trench has been dug about the gun,and the greater portion of it uncovered.
Measures have also been taken to prevent its sinking deeper,ropes having been passed under the trunnions and secured over a beam,which rests upon a number of blocks of timber on each side. The unstable nature of the soil interposes a difficulty with respect to a foundation for the lifing jacks,but by forming a broad platform it is expected that the gun may be ultimately raised and rolled or parbuckled up the sloping beach by ropes and winches.
The river has been dammed out by a bank of clay,but there is a risk of being flooded by an exceptionally high tide. It is hoped that the gun will be got out of its dilema in the course of the present week,and mounted in the casemate in which it will guard Sea Reach. A barge laden with spars,hydraulic lifting jacks,and other appliances for raising the gun has been despatched from the Royal Arsenal,Woolwich.

Offline Trikeman

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Re: Cliffe Fort
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2009, 21:36:52 »
Here's an aerial picture of the Cliffe Fort taken last year - they certainly put these things in remote places; Darnet & Hoo you either need to fly or float! The whole area is littered with historical remnants and the remoteness is a bonus as it keeps the developers and vandals at bay. One of the most fascinating areas in Kent to explore from the air, every cove, inlet and marshy island seems to conceal a little treasure.
The Forum has been a revelation for me in researching the pictures I have taken - there is so much more out there once you know what to look for, and this site is an absolute mine of information - there is simply no better source of historical information about Kent. Many thanks to all you regular contributers.
Consequently I've got a whole list of places I need to re-photograph - roll on the better weather!
I'll post a few other fort pics in the relevent threads.
Trikeman

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merc

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Re: Cliffe Fort
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2008, 00:13:57 »
Apparantly another problem encountered during construction was the presence of Malaria Mosquitoes ##

Offline kyn

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Cliffe Fort
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2008, 19:46:41 »
Cliffe Fort is one of a number of forts constructed along the River Thames as a consequence of the Royal Commission of 1859.  Work begun in July 1861 and took nine years to complete at a cost of 162,937.  Initial plans for the construction of the fort included thirteen guns upon the terreplein protected by shields, three guns on barbette mounts and two for land defence with twenty guns within the granite faced casemates protected by iron shields.  The thirteen guns to be installed upon the terreplein were dropped due to trouble with construction.  The site of the fort was to be on marshy ground, in 1861 gravel was found at a depth of sixty feet and chalk at seventy-nine feet.  The fort required thirty-foot long piles but still encountered problems.  Reports from 1865 showed difficulties including subsidence and cracking.  The fort, when complete, was much smaller than planned with only ten guns within the casemates.  Underneath the casemates were two parallel tunnels, one a passage connecting the shell and cartridge stores and the other a lighting passage.  The lighting passage was a narrow tunnel and had many offshoots with steps leading up to light recesses within the walls of the main tunnel.  You could also find these light recesses within the walls of the shell and cartridge stores, the recesses were constructed to prevent explosive material coming into contact with the naked flame of the lamp, this was placed within the recess and would be protected by a glass front and a glass door behind giving access from the lighting tunnel.  A dry ditch and earthworks on the seaward side further protected the fort,
it was built for a compliment of 300 men.  It was to work in conjunction with Coalhouse fort and Shornemead Fort.

Armament of the fort in 1887 consisted of two 12.5" RMLs, six 11" RMLs. both types within the casemates and two 9" RMLs in the open battery.  In 1855 building work commenced to convert one of the 9" magazines into a Brennan Torpedo Station, the Brennan Torpedo was introduced at the fort in 1890.  The torpedo was a wire-guided harbour defence missile that was launched from the station via launching rails.   In 1895 the armament consisted of two 12.5" RMLs, five 11" RMLs, one 9" RML in the open Battery, three 3pdr QF guns in new concrete emplacements on the roof and the Brennan Torpedo.  The armament was further updated in 1899 to four 4pdr QF guns and again later to either two 4.7" guns or 6" guns.  During the Second World War the fort was armed with two 4" BL guns for the use against enemy aircraft.  Many other guns were mounted within and on the fort during its time in service.

Unfortunately Cliffe Fort has seriously deteriorated over the years and the Scheduled Monument is now badly flooded, the parade ground is under at least one foot of water with the magazines, access tunnels and lighting tunnels under at least two feet of water.  Standing derelict many features remain at the fort, including gun rings, rails and other features within the casemates, gun emplacements, observation posts and shelters upon the roof, two Brennan Torpedo launching rails leading into the river and the retractable observation post for the torpedo.  The fort was used as an unofficial recreational area whilst standing derelict and during the 1980s a child had a fatal accident, although access is possible it is not easy and is VERY dangerous.  Please consider your safety if you decide to venture inside, there are many hidden dangers including a deep well that is hidden by the flooding water inside and crumbling roofs, floors and walls that may not hold your weight.



Ground Floor






Casemates and 1st floor
















Roof


Remains of the Brennan Torpedo Station





 

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