South Foreland Lighthouse

South Foreland Lighthouse

South Foreland Lighthouse

Date

26 October 2016

Location

South Foreland, St Margaret’s at Cliffe, Kent
TR 35938 43335; 51.14063°N, 1.37154°E

Information

The Goodwin Sands – a massive sand bank in the English Channel between South Foreland and Ramsgate – have been a hazard to shipping for centuries and there are records of lights on the White Cliffs to warn mariners of the dangers since the 14th century. In 1635 two open-fire braziers were erected at South Foreland and there have been two lighthouses there ever since. In 1793 the Upper Light was converted to use oil lamps and in 1795 the Lower Light was similarly converted. Both lighthouses were purchased by Trinity House in 1832 with alterations being carried out to the Upper Light in 1842 and the Lower Light being totally rebuilt in 1846.

By 1875 South Foreland was equipped with carbon-arc lamps making it the first lighthouse to use electric light. The lighthouse was also later used by Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) as a base for his experiments in radio transmission and it became the first ever site to receive a ship-to-shore radio message and in 1899 it also received the first international radio transmission (from Wimereux, between Calais and Boulogne in France).

By 1904 the Goodwin Sands had shifted by such an extent that the visual alignment of the two lights no longer provided an accurate indication of the location of the sand bank and so the Lower Light was decommissioned. The Upper Light was fully automated in 1969 and it remained in service until 1988 when it too was decommissioned, modern navigational aids having rendered it redundant. The National Trust took over the site in 1989 and opened it to the public in 1990.

Further Reading

South Foreland Lighthouse (National Trust);
South Foreland Lighthouse (Wikipedia)

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Fan Bay Sound Mirrors

No. 1 Sound Mirror, Fan Bay

No. 1 Sound Mirror, Fan Bay

Date

26 October 2016

Location

Fan Bay, Dover, Kent
TR 35221 42799; 51.13611°N, 1.36095°E

Information

Concrete sound mirrors were developed in Britain to provide early warning of approaching aircraft. The dish-shaped acoustic reflectors focused sound waves to a point in front of the mirror where a microphone would be placed, or an operator equipped with a stethoscope would be positioned. The technology became obsolete in the 1930s with the advent of radar.

The two 4.5 metre World War I sound mirrors at Fan Bay, the site of which had been filled in in the 1970s, were excavated by the National Trust as part of its restoration of Fan Bay Deep Shelter. An archaeological dig took place in 2014 to find the mirrors and 600 tonnes of spoil was removed to uncover the devices. The guided tour of Fan Bay Deep Shelter includes an opportunity to view the sound mirrors at close quarters.

Further Reading

Sound Mirrors;
Fan Bay Deep Shelter;
First World War ‘sound mirrors’ restored on White Cliffs of Dover (Centenary News)

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Fan Bay Deep Shelter

Fan Bay Deep Shelter

Fan Bay Deep Shelter

Date

26 October 2016

Location

Fan Bay, Dover, Kent
TR 35178 42814; 51.13626°N, 1.36035°E

Information

In 2012 the National Trust raised £1.2 million to purchase a 0.8-mile-long stretch of the White Cliffs of Dover to fill a gap in the five miles of coastline it already owned, the first stretch having been bought in 1968. The newly acquired section included Fan Bay and a team of 50 National Trust volunteers worked from 2013 to 2015 to clear the deep shelter there, in the process removing 30 tonnes of rubble from the 125 steps down into the shelter and a further 100 tonnes from the tunnels 70 feet (21 metres) below the surface.

During World War II the site of two World War I sound mirrors at Fan Bay was chosen as the location of a new artillery battery comprising three six-inch guns. The facility was constructed in 1940-41 and the deep shelter was excavated to serve as a bomb-proof shelter for the station’s personnel.

Further Reading

Fan Bay Deep Shelter an excavation of epic proportions (National Trust)

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Dover Castle

Inside the Keep, or Great Tower, built by Henry II c 1181-88

Inside the Keep, or Great Tower, built by Henry II c 1181-88

Date

25 October 2016

Location

Dover, Kent
TR 32666 41886; 51.12896°N, 1.32391°E

Information

Dover Castle – the largest in England – is a Grade I listed building and is owned by English Heritage. Its strategically important location on a clifftop overlooking Dover Strait in the English Channel was the site of an Iron Age hillfort. A lighthouse – the oldest still surviving in the UK – was also built there by the Romans in the 2nd century. Much of the existing castle was built by Henry II in the 12th century. Major additions were built at the end of the 18th century during the Napoleonic Wars and a network of tunnels beneath the clifftop were excavated to serve as barracks to house the extra troops stationed there at that time. During World War II the tunnels housed an underground hospital and a command centre, from where Vice-Admiral Ramsay led Operation Dynamo to rescue British and French troops stranded at Dunkirk.

Further Reading

Dover Castle (Wikipedia);
Dover Castle (English Heritage);
More posts in the Dover series

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Hughenden Manor

Hughenden Manor

Hughenden Manor

Date

24 October 2016

Location

High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire
SU 86120 95395; 51.65075°N, 0.75660°W

Information

Located in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, Hughenden Manor is a Grade I listed building in the care of the National Trust and was the country residence of Victorian Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), 1st Earl of Beaconsfield.

The estate dates back to the 11th century and the present house was built in the late 18th century. Disraeli inherited Hughenden in 1848 from his father Isaac, who had purchased it in 1847. The property was remodelled in 1862 by architect Edward Buckton Lamb (1806-1869).

Hughenden was sold by the Disraeli family in 1937 and it was used as a secret intelligence base during World War II. It was given to the National Trust in 1947.

Further Reading

Hughenden Manor (Wikipedia);
Hughenden (National Trust)

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