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Offline Leofwine

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Re: Chatham Lines
« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2017, 16:49:19 »
The ditches seem to have varied in depth at different points on the Lines, but generally seem to have been in the 20-30 foot depth from what I can make out. Some of the ditches are currently shallower than originally, but to my knowledge no-one has yet done any physical work to ascertain original depths.
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Offline smiffy

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Re: Chatham Lines
« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2017, 15:24:25 »
Falling into the ditches would seem to have been a fairly regular occurrence at one time, especially during the hours of darkness. Most people nowadays are probably unaware of just how dark the nights used to be, even in urban areas, before the advent of efficient street lighting. On moonless nights you could barely see your hand in front of your face, let alone any dangerous obstacles.

19 feet is quite a distance to fall - would this have been an average depth at the time? I have always assumed that the ditches in their current form have been reduced in height quite a bit over the years.

Offline Leofwine

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Re: Chatham Lines
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2017, 23:43:50 »
West Kent Guardian - Saturday 07 May 1842

DREADFUL ACCIDENT.—On Thursday week a party of recruits arrived in Chatham, under the superintendence of Sergeant Hayes, of the Liverpool district, and after billeting them at Brompton, the sergeant was observed to go over the draw bridge from Brompton towards Chatham lines, about 9 o'clock in the evening, and not long afterwards the attention of the sentinel who was on duty at the Brompton barrier, was directed towards the trench from which he heard several groans, apparently from a person in great agony. The sentinel immediately gave information to the guard house of what he had heard, and a search was instantly made towards that part where the sounds came from, and they found Sergeant Hayes lying in the trench, having fallen a depth of about 19 feet, covered with blood, with one of his thighs broken, and there was also a severe wound about 3 inches in length under his chin. The unfortunate sufferer was instantly conveyed to the Ordinance hospital, near Chatham barracks, where he received medical attention from the military surgeons. The body was dreadfully bruised, and at present it cannot be ascertained whether his hips are out of place, but it is generally believed they are. The poor fellow has since expired.
An inquest was held on Thursday, at the King of Prussia, Prospect-row, Brompton, on the body. The jury, after being sworn, took a view of the body, which laid in a building belonging to the Ordnance Hospital. There were several severe bruises about the head and arms, arising, no doubt, from internal injury.
The first witness examined was Mr. John Walker, constable and billet master of Brompton. Witness stated that the deceased came to his residence last Thursday evening, about eight o'clock, for drawing billets for the night, as he had a party of recruits going on next morning for Sheerness. The deceased was a recruiting sergeant of the Liverpool district. Witness afterwards met the deceased at the Harrow public-house, in Manor-street, Brompton, and had a glass of ale together. Witness and deceased then left the house, when deceased told witness he had a great deal of business to do, and was then going down to Chatham. The deceased was sober when he left witness. Next morning witness heard that a man had fallen into the trench, and went to the Ordnance Hospital and saw the deceased. Witness asked the deceased how he came to be walking on the lines, and he said-"I told you last night I was going to Chatham; I did so and was making the best of my way over the lines to my billet-quarters, according to the lights on the drawbridge; it being very dark I walked into the trench." Witness stated that where the deceased fell was near to the Brompton barrier. The depth is about nineteen feet.
John Greenhill, a private of the 17th regiment of foot, stated that on Thursday 29th April, he was on duty as a sentinel at the Brompton barrier from nine to eleven o'clock. About half-past ten witness heard a noise, and having seen a sheep in the trench witness thought it was that. A man came by afterwards, and witness asked him to go and see what it was in the trench. The man did so and returned and told witness there was some one in there. It being eleven o'clock witness was relieved of the guard, and he then ran immediately with the civilian, and both got over the palings from the road into the trench and made their way towards the place the noise came from, and found the deceased lying on the ground close to the side wall of the trench. Witness inquired of the deceased what brought him there. The deceased said that he was making his way from the lower part of Chatham to his billet at Brompton. Witness found from his dress that the deceased was a sergeant. Deceased requested witness to untwist his leg, which he did. The deceased groaned much. Witness, with assistance, took him to the guard room, and the deceased was conveyed to the hospital on a stretcher. A great deal blood was on the deceased; there was a large wound under the chin. The deceased was very much hurt.
Mr. Michael Nugent, staff surgeon at Chatham barracks, stated that he was called up at a quarter before twelve o'clock on Thursday night last, in consequence of a sergeant having been brought into the hospital through an accident. On examination witness found the deceased's left thigh broken across. There was a deep wound under the chin, and a severe contusion on the left arm and shoulder. The deceased complained much of his sufferings from the fall. The deceased told witness that he was two hours in the trench before any assistance came. Witness set the limb, dressed the wound, and put the deceased to rest. Deceased next morning complained of great pain in the lower part of his abdomen on the left side, which was relieved by the usual means. On Saturday morning the deceased vomited very much, and the lower part of his belly became more painful from pressure, the effects of which were relieved by medicine, but the deceased gradually sunk and died on Monday morning the 2nd inst. The death of the deceased arose from the injuries he had received from falling from such a height. It was a wonder the deceased was not killed on the spot. The deceased was forty-seven years of age.
The jury returned a verdict that the death was occasioned by accidentally falling into a trench.
The deceased formerly belonged to the 6th regiment of foot, and was a police constable at Faversham, and took an active part at the time against the Courtenay riots at Boughton, near Faversham. He bore an excellent character and was much respected; he has left a wife and two children behind him, at Liverpool, where they live, in Drinkingwater's garden, Soho-street. The body was afterwards buried with military honours.


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Offline Bilgerat

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Re: Chatham Lines
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2017, 15:36:15 »
Sounds like the poor chap died from what today would be called Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Whenever you get combustion in a confined space or a space with minimal ventilation, carbon monoxide is produced. This colourless, odourless gas is a deadly killer. Unlike Carbon Dioxide, which is not toxic (it displaces the oxygen from the air, leading to suffocation), Carbon Monoxide is also very toxic, with concentration in air as low as 600(ish) parts per million likely to cause death.

Carbon Monoxide poisoning leads to headaches, nausea, disturbed vision, disorientation, fainting, vomiting, confusion, dizziness and fatigue.

Anybody working in a confined space today is required to wear a gas monitor which will sound an alarm if it detects carbon monoxide amongst other things. The Mark One gas monitor back in those days was the old-fashioned canary in a cage. Having stated that, by the time the canary fell dead off it's perch, it was probably too late.
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Offline Leofwine

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Re: Chatham Lines
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2017, 14:42:18 »
A more detailed account of the event and inquest.

Naval & Military Gazette and Weekly Chronicle of the United Service - Saturday 02 November 1844
Rl. Engineers—On the 25th, the besiegers in the mining operations carrying on at Chatham, under the order of Lieut.-Col. Sir Frederick Smith, K.H., fired their first charge, consisting of 300 lbs. of gunpowder. The chamber was about 17 feet under ground, and about 60 feet in advance of the third parallel. The mine was fired by Ensign Fyfe, of the East India Company’s Engineers. The effect of the explosion was most magnificent, producing a vibration of the earth which was felt a a very considerable distance. The body of earth which was lifted up by it was about 50 feet in diameter, and driven to the height of between 20 and 30 feet; on the earth falling down an entonnoir was left, affording cover for a party of Sappers and Miners, who advanced with shovels, and immediately occupied the ground, and crowned it with gabions. By the explosion the besiegers advanced their trenches towards the glacis at least 50 feet.
Chatham, Wednesday, October 30th.—Previous to this day several explosions have taken place without any important result or accident, and it was generally understood that others would take place to-day. In the early part of the afternoon great sensation was created in Brompton, Chatham, and the neighbourhood, by a rumour that a serious and fatal accident had taken place in the mines, and on proceeding to the spot it was found that the report was but too true. From information obtained on the spot, it appears that in the course of the morning a charge of 250 lbs. of gunpowder was fired in the right branch of Lieutenant Penrice’s countermines, and about half-past 1 o’clock a smaller charge of about 5 lbs., besides some loose powder, was exploded. After air had been pumped into the mines for some time, three men, namely, James Sullivan, a private in the East India Company’s Sappers, and Harris and Bailey, two privates in the Queen’s service, entered the branch where the explosion had taken place, for the purpose digging out the loose earth. In a few minutes Bailey came out of the mine, saying that the foul air so affected his head, that could not stand it any longer. Sullivan and Harris not making their appearance, some alarm was excited, and Corporal Dent and private Murphy entered the mine in search of them, when they found them them lying at the further end of the branch in a senseless state. Corporal Dent, although seriously affected by the vapour, succeeded in getting Harris out, but Murphy was unable to assist Sullivan, and fell senseless in the passage, completely choking it. Some delay occurred in extracting Murphy, and when that was effected, Lieutenant Moggeridge, who was in charge of the party, led his men in to rescue poor Sullivan, who was lying on his face at the extreme end of the branch.
He was immediately got out, and Mr. Weeks, a Surgeon of Brompton, being sent for, was promptly on the spot, and applied remedies, but in Sullivan’s case without effect, as, owing to the delay in getting him out, he was quite dead. Murphy and Harris were conveyed on stretchers to the hospital in Brompton barracks, where they are doing well. Several of the party who entered the mine the last time were more or less affected, and the Lieutenant himself was partially delirious for some minutes after he came out. Immediately after the accident all further operations in the work ceased.
Chatham, Nov. 1.—This afternoon, J. Hindes, Esq., one of the Coroners for Kent, and a respectable jury, held a lengthened inquiry at the King of Prussia, Brompton, touching the death of James Sullivan, one of the privates in the East India Company’s Sappers and Miners, who perished in the late unfortunate accident in the experimental mines. Several Officers were present. Capts. Williams and Whitmore, Lieuts. White and Moggeridge, and Corporal Basten, of the Rl. Engineers, were examined, and from their evidence it appeared that when Lieut. Moggeridge, and some of his party, entered the mine, after the last explosion on Wednesday, they found that part of the gallery had broken in, and part of the supporting frames were displaced. These were replaced, and on the party proceeding in their operations, a sudden puff of the disengaged vapour extinguished their light, and several, among whom was poor Sullivan, became senseless. Assistance was procured, and they were extricated as soon as possible, and all means tried for their recovery, but Sullivan, who was the last got out, was dead. After a long and careful investigation, the jury came to the conclusion that the deceased was suffocated by the foul air, but that every precaution had been taken to prevent accidents, and that no blame attached to any one.
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Offline Leofwine

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Re: Chatham Lines
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2017, 14:40:34 »
Probably on the 'Practice ground' which is the stretch of the Lines by Mill Road/Prince Arthur Road. Now the site of the Mid Kent College across to the Athletics track and (Black Lion) Sports Centre.
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Offline smiffy

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Re: Chatham Lines
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2017, 12:54:28 »
Any idea of the whereabouts of these "experimental mines" and what they were for?

Offline Leofwine

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Re: Chatham Lines
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2017, 01:25:13 »
Canterbury Journal, Kentish Times and Farmers' Gazette - Saturday 09 November 1844

THE LATE FATAL ACCIDENT ON CHATHAM LINES.— On Thursday night, J. Hindes, Esq., one of the coroners for the county of Kent, and a jury, held a lengthened inquiry, lasting about three hours, at the King of Prussia, Brompton, touching the death of James Sullivan, the private in the East India Company’s Sappers and Miners, who perished in the late unfortunate accident in the experimental mines. Several military gentlemen were present, and appeared to take great interest in the proceedings. Captains Williams and Whitmore, Lieutenants White and Moggeridge, and Corporal Basten, of the Royal Engineers, were examined at great length, and from their evidence it appeared that when Lieutenant Moggeridge and some of his party entered the mine after the last explosion on Wednesday. they found that part of the gallery had accidentally broken in, and some of the supporting frame-work displaced. These were replaced, and the party proceeding in their operatives, a sudden puff of the disengaged vapor extinguished their light, and several of them, among whom was Sullivan, became senseless. Assistance was procured and they were extricated soon as possible, and all means for their recovery, but Sullivan, who was at last got out, was dead. The Jury came to the conclusion that the deceased was suffocated by the foul air, but that every precaution had been taken to avoid accidents, and that no blame attached to any one.
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Offline Leofwine

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Re: Chatham Lines
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2016, 03:38:24 »
Morning Chronicle - Thursday 17 November 1803
CHATHAM, Nov. 15 - Yesterday morning General Sir D. Dundas and Colonel Nepean inspected the works carrying on here; after which the General set off from Lord Chatham's in a chaise and four for Canterbury.
It is not as yet known what time the camps here are to break up.
About thirteen hundred of the Guards and Militia are every day employed on the works, which are of considerable extent, beginning at Gillingham Fort on the Medway, considerably to the right of Brunton [Brompton], they are continued till they join the old works at the Magazine on the high ground above the Barracks, where a horn-work is added to strengthen that point. The lines from thence are carrying on down the hill at the Chatham side to the Old Dock, where a fort is to be erected and bridge of pontoons-if occasion should require it, to be thrown from that point to the opposite shore. The lines embrace from Gillingham Fort to the  Old Dock, the town of Brompton, the Dock-yards, the Barracks and the Church. On the opposite shore redoubts are to be thrown up at Frinsbury Village and the Quarry, it being certain that, should the enemy land on that side of the Medway, they could effectually destroy the Dock-yards, Arsenal, &c.
When the lines at Chatham are completed, which it is supposed they may be in a few months, it will take a large army to man them; and it is matter of doubt with many who pretend to understand these matters, whether they can ever be of any use. Should the enemy sail up the Medway, it must be in the event of defeating our fleet and forcing the guardships at the Nore, in which case the works at Gillingham Fort would be a feeble defence indeed to the Docks. Should the enemy be unfortunately so far triumphant, of what use the Fort at the Old Dock could be, is not easily conceived, unless an enemy's fleet were to sail down to Chatham from Maidstone. About twenty years ago, lines nearly on the plan of those now constructing were thrown up for the protection of the Dock-yards, &c. but, notwithstanding the vast sums they cost the country, they were evidently thought to be of no use, otherwise they would not have been suffered to run totally to decay. Those, however, who advised the present plan of defence argue - that, 'tis true, lines of such extent must have weak points;. that, notwithstanding, they may hold out against an assault for two days, and that this  would be a great point gained in case our troops were  beat from the Coast, as  we have no other rallying point in this quarter; and that in two days supplies might arrive to check the enemy. A General Officer, however, of great talent, gave (it is said) his opinion - that the best plan would  even now be to level them all to the ground.   
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Offline Leofwine

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Re: Chatham Lines
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2016, 00:53:49 »
Leeds Intelligencer - Tuesday, 06 October, 1778.
The fortifications at Brompton, near Chatham, are now putting into repair, and will, when finished, be the most compleat and strong defence we have. The works are carrying on under the direction of Major Debbege of the Corps of Engineers.
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Offline kyn

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Chatham Lines
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2013, 23:21:06 »
The Morning Chronicle – Thursday, 17th November, 1803

Chatham, Nov 15. – Yesterday morning General Sir D. Dundas and Colonel Nepean inspected the works carrying on here; after which the General set off from Lord Chatham’s in a chaise and four for Canterbury.

It is not as yet known what time the camps here are to break up.

About thirteen hundred of the Guards and Militia are every day employed on the works, which are of considerable extent, beginning at Gillingham Fort on the Medway, considerably to the right of Brunton, they are continued till they join the old works at the Magazine on the high ground above the Barracks, where a horn-work is added to strengthen that point.  The lines from thence are carrying on down the hill at the Chatham side to the Old Dock, where a fort is to be erected and bridge of pontoons - if occasion should require it, to be thrown from that point to the opposite shore.  The lines embrace from Gillingham Fort to the Old Dock, the town of Brompton, the Dock-yards, the Barracks and the Church.  On the opposite shore redoubts are to be thrown up at Frindsbury Village and the Quarry, it being certain that, should they enemy land on that side of the Medway, they could effectually destroy the Dock-yards, Arsenal, & c.

When the lines at Chatham are completed, which it is supposed they may be in a few months, it will take a large army to man them; and it is matter of doubt with many who pretend to understand these matters, whether they can ever be of any use.  Should the enemy sail up the Medway, it must be in the event of defeating our fleet and forcing the guard-ships at the Nore, in which case the works at Gillingham Fort would be a feeble defence indeed to the Docks.  Should the enemy be unfortunately so far triumphant, of what use the Fort at the Old Dock could be, is not easily conceived, unless the enemy’s fleet were to sail down to Chatham from Maidstone.  About twenty years ago, lines nearly on the plan of those now constructing were thrown up for the protection of the Dock-yards, & C. but, notwithstanding the vast sums they cost the country, they were evidently thought to be of no use, otherwise they would not have been suffered to run totally to decay.  Those, however, who advised the present plan of defence argue – that, ‘tis true, lines of such extent must have weak points; that, notwithstanding, they may hold out against an assault for two days, and that this would be a great point gained in case out troops were beat from the Coast, as we have no other rallying point in this quarters; and that in two days supplies might arrive to check the enemy.  A General Officer, however, of great talent, gave (it is said) his opinion – that the best plan would even now be to level them all to the ground.

 

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