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Author Topic: Fort Pitt, Chatham.  (Read 71914 times)

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Offline kyn

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Re: Fort Pitt, Chatham.
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2009, 12:49:01 »
As a volunteer of Fort Amherst i was lucky enough to visit the remains of Fort Pitt as part of a volunteer trip last Saturday, as is known very little of the fort itself remains however many of the later military hospital buildings do.  Here are some pics...

The remaining visible ditch wall showing the outline of two of the bastions and curtain wall along the east of the site.

A remaining firestep in good condition, the grass leading up to the wall would have been terraced to give the soldiers somewehre safe to step down to reload in the event of an invasion.  Further along this wall the grass terraces were replaced with brick terraces due to lack of room.

The remains of another part of the fort reamins on the western side, again showing the outline of a bastion

The small casemate, a guardhouse

Now the hospital buildings.

Crimea block where Queen Victoria visited and Florence Nightingale worked

Nearby is this hand pump with bricked terraces behind

A stove

The other side of the Crimea block showing the connecting corridor to the rest of the hospital building

The connecting corridor

Remaining painted directions to the wards


Offline kyn

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Re: Fort Pitt, Chatham.
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2009, 14:45:44 »
1806

merc

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Re: Fort Pitt, Chatham.
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2009, 17:07:26 »
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited the Hospital at the fort three times during the Crimean War.
On her first visit,the Queen met George Hayward who was a 90+ year old patient,he had been bedridden for over 30 years.
It was later discovered that George had mutilated himself to get out of fighting at Waterloo by cutting off one of his feet.
The story goes that the Surgeon at the Hospital on hearing this,then cut off his other foot,thus making him completely bedridden.
Queen Victoria may have found out about this as she didn't visit George on her next two visits to the Hospital,George was said to be most upset by this.
George Hayward's Bedstead was kept as an exhibit in the Hospital for many years after his death.

Offline kyn

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Re: Fort Pitt, Chatham.
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2009, 18:19:06 »



Offline kyn

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Re: Fort Pitt, Chatham.
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2008, 18:36:48 »
Held at Medway Archives in strood.

Rochester Grammar School for Girls, Warren Wood County Primary School, Rochester, Warren Wood Girl's Secondary School, Warren Wood County Secondary School for Boys, Medway College of Art, Fort Pitt Hill (showing fortifications and underground shelters), St. Joseph's Convent, Maidstone Road, Chatham, proposed Roman Catholic Secondary School, Ordnance Street, Chatham, Chatham County School for Girls (Chatham Grammar School for Girls), Chatham Hill, Chatham, St. John Fisher Roman Catholic Secondary School, Chatham, 18 Rainham Road, Chatham 1930-1984 (KCC/PSD/Roll 147)

Offline kyn

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Re: Fort Pitt, Chatham.
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2008, 10:26:28 »
Another write up  ;)

The site of Fort Pitt was considered as a weakness in the existing defences of Chatham since as early as the 1770's.  Hugh Debbieg, the chief engineer at Chatham, proposed the construction of a detached fort on the south hill to strengthen the defences already in existence in 1779.  The site proposed for this fort was an excellent one with commanding view of the River Medway towards Rochester and overlooking the Royal Dockyard at Chatham and the Lines of defence.  The war office purchased the land in 1782 with the area confirmed by and act of parliament.  A letter dated October 1783 and written by Debbieg states the hill had been used as an encampment for troops and:

"The land south of Chatham purchased by the Board of Ordnance contains about 30 acres.  No works of fortifications have yet been erected there but it is party occupied by upwards of 4,500,000 bricks deposited in different parts for that purpose".

Early plans show that a major work in the form of a star fort was being considered as part of the enhancement of the Chatham defences, however the work was suspended due to the cost of the design and the end of The War of American Independence (1775-1783) and the design was eventually dropped.  In 1803, during the outbreak of hostilities with France, construction began of a military hospital on the site, construction of the fort started two years later with the ramparts constructed around the hospital buildings that had been converted for use as barracks.  The cost of construction of the fort was recorded as 21,830 having been spent in 1805, 17,092, 11,509, 13,213 and 7,709 being sent in the years between 1806 and 1809.  Another 4,717 had been spent between 1810 and 1813.Two guard towers were built either side of the fort in 1812, one to the west, Delce Tower, and one to the east, Gibraltar Tower, these were to control the roads leading to Rochester Bridge past the fort, the towers were linked to the fort by substantial earthworks.  The fort was largely completed by the following year and was already manned.  The largest buildings in the fort were the casemated blockhouse to the north and a central tower.  The blockhouse of two storeys had nine main casemated chambers on each floor.  These could hold 172 soldiers plus officers and their wives and children.  Guns could be mounted on the roof and the middle five chambers, these having two embrasures for the firing of canons or concentrated musket fire.  The four end chambers gave access to two bulwarks at the front of the blockhouse, these consisted of two chambers on each floor with three gun embrasures each.  There were steps at the rear of the blockhouse to give access to the main part of the fort.  The tower was of two storeys with each floor divided into two, the roof was flat to allow the positioning of small canon.  Two turrets at the front of the tower held staircases with loopholes at intervals for the defence of the tower.  Underneath the tower was a network of magazines, storage chambers and tunnels.  A well of 161 feet deep could also be found here accompanied by two cisterns.  Another underground area could be found near the rear of the fort, this held more magazines and reservoirs.

1814 saw the Royal Marine Artillery move in due to lack of local accommodation however they had to vacate the blockhouse to allow wounded soldiers from the battle of Waterloo to be housed.  The forts construction was delayed further due to this battle, it was recorded to have been completed by February 1819.

Armament of the fort in 1819 consisted of

Canon 18pdrCarronade 18pdrMortars 10pdr
Mounted943
Unmounted1181

The fort was again used as a military hospital in 1828 although there were troops housed on site, most likely inside the casemated blockhouse.  The census of 1841 states the hospital held 227 patients and medical and administrative staff as well as their families, this meant the entire population was nearer 500.  A new building was added in 1847 for use as an asylum for mentally ill servicemen, it was situated in a fenced off area and could house 32 men and 2 officers.  The asylum was described as:

"More a house of detention or of observation than an asylum.  The fence surrounding the building is only 4 feet high and had frequently been cleared by patients at a bound".

The fort was designated a General Military Hospital in 1849, reports show in 1851 it housed a principal medical officer, a purveyor, 10 officers, 447 patients as well as 3 officers living in Fort Pitt House.  Around this time the ramparts and grounds were landscaped to be used as airing grounds for the patients.  The first Army Medical School was opened here in 1861 after the site being chosen for the school by Florence Nightingale, it remained here for two years before being moved to a purpose built hospital at Netley.

1910 saw the central tower destroyed to make room for more hospital buildings, a few years later the defensive ditch was filled in to provide work for the unemployed in the Medway towns.  The hospital closed in the 1920's leaving the fort empty for nine years.  In September 1929 the fort was bought for 6,000 by the local Board of Education.  The buildings were converted for use as a technical school for girls.  The casemated blockhouse was demolished in 1932 for a proposed development however this wasn't constructed until after 1968 as an institute of the arts and design.  Modifications were made to some of the remaining buildings during the Second World War to protect them from bomb damage, tunnels and underground chambers had electricity and lighting installed so they could be used as air raid shelters and classrooms that could hold up to 568 people.  The site is still in use as a school and college with the underground tunnels and chambers used for storage.  Around the buildings it is possible to trace the fort by remaining walls and fire steps, a number of hospital buildings also still remain and a grade II listed cast iron water pump.

Info gathered from Keith Gulvin's books, available at fort Amherst, and internet searches  ;)

Offline kyn

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Fort Pitt, Chatham.
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2008, 16:33:54 »
A plan from the 1938 Ordnance Survey map


 

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