Western Heights, Dover

St Martin's Battery, first built in 1804 to provide additional protection for the harbour below

St Martin’s Battery (A), first built in 1804 to provide additional protection for the harbour below

Date

10-11 February 2013
Location

Dover, Kent

(A) TR 31450 40760; 51.11934°N, 1.30584°E
(B) TR 31562 41237; 51.12358°N, 1.30775°E
(C) TR 30718 40799; 51.11999°N, 1.29543°E
(D) TR 30451 40351; 51.11607°N, 1.29133°E

Information

The Western Heights is a complex of fortifications built on the high ground in the west of Dover to protect the port from attack from either land or sea. The site was developed in several phases. Firstly, simple earthworks were constructed at the end of the 18th century. Then, amidst fears of a Napoleonic invasion, work on more substantial fortifications took place from 1804. And, again owing to concerns over national security, the defences were further bolstered during the 1860s.

There are two main forts in the complex: the Drop Redoubt and the Citadel. The latter, having previously functioned as a Young Offenders’ Institution, is in use today as a detention centre (the Dover Immigration Removal Centre). Military use of the site ceased in the 1950s, after which the local council embarked upon a plan to raze the rest of the complex. Most of the barracks had already been demolished before protests over the loss of the historical assets put a stop to the destruction. Most of the site is now owned by English Heritage and in the 1990s restoration work was carried out on the Drop Redoubt and the Grand Shaft. The latter is a 19th-century triple spiral staircase sunk into the cliff in order to facilitate troop movements between barracks and coastal defensive positions. Ongoing restoration work is being undertaken by the Western Heights Preservation Society.

Western Heights, Dover (Subterranean History);
Dover Western Heights Preservation Society

St Martin's Battery

St Martin’s Battery (A)

St Martin's Battery

St Martin’s Battery (A)

St Martin's Battery

St Martin’s Battery (A)

Drop Redoubt (B), surrounded by deep defensive ditches and with earth covering for bomb proofing

Drop Redoubt (B), surrounded by deep defensive ditches and with earth covering for bomb proofing

Citadel (C) - the main fortification of the complex, now in use as an immigration detention centre

Citadel (C) – the main fortification of the complex, now in use as an immigration detention centre

Citadel Battery (D)

Citadel Battery (D)

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7 thoughts on “Western Heights, Dover

  1. Somewhat reminiscent of the fortifications in the north of france, hardly surprising really, given they were built for the same purpose by opposing sides.

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