Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Fort Burgoyne, Dover - June 2012

So after hitting up the Archcliffe Galleries (although not knowing that at the time), being denied at St Martin's, and going for a walk for a while in a dead end, Giacomo and I were going to call it quits for the day (he had some excuse about a revision for an exam or something?). Then I suggested that as we were in the area we may as well check out the security for another site, and literally within about 15-20 minutes we were inside the perimeter fence of Fort Burgoyne, looking down the 'Drop of Death'! We were initially supposed to check out whether or not the military still had a presence in the Connaught Barracks in front of the fort, but we found a way in so quickly we sort of forgot to check how live the site was first.

Some history from the ever-reliable Underground Kent:
"Fort Burgoyne was designed (as one of the famous 'Palmerston Forts') to protect the North Spur area of Dover Castle which was perceived as a weak spot in the defences and the most likely approach for an invading army. Work started on the construction of the fort in 1861, and it was completed by 1868 for a total cost of £88,000.

"The polygonal fort is surrounded by a 35 foot wide dry ditch with a double caponier giving flanking fire along the ditch from the northern point. In the centre of the fort is the parade ground surrounded on three sides by bomb proof barracks. Originally armed with 29 guns on the ramparts (6 of them in Haxo casemates), by the early 1900's these guns had disappeared to be replaced by 3 machine guns. The two World Wars saw further changes, with concrete and brick structures being added."

The fort was used right up to the 1960s before it was abandoned in favour of the attached Connaught Barracks. Having fixed the tripod after finding it in pieces underground earlier, this time it got left in the car as we were 'just going for a scout and probably wont need it anyway'. Should really stop listening to people 

Anyway, after finding ourselves scratching our heads as to how to approach getting down into the quite frankly huge ditch, we found our way down (thank you whoever left that rope there!) and started snapping. 

There was a top half of another staircase up the ditch much further down the wall. If only they were together. We found a nice little way in, which may or may not have been painful down below, and then remembered that we didn't pick up new batteries, so flash photography warning! 

The upper floor has been removed in the Caponiers.

Baby's first light-painting! Not bad for a first-timer, if I do say so myself. Definitely need a better torch though. At this point Giacomo was borrowing most of the items in my pockets to prop his camera lens up, so mine was angled a bit low.

I loved that tunnel. Making our way out into sheltered sunlight we decided to be a bit more wary as we headed into the fort proper. I did struggle with taking photos without a decent torch between us, so I was never really happy with my focus. The photos here are what I salvaged. 

Anyone from Kent will know that this bag is a nice bit of history, the Rotunda was Folkestone's Dreamland, and must have been gone now for well over ten years.

A lot of the rooms here were filled with utterly bizarre clutter, I wondered if it had ever spent time as a crack den? Anyway, having grown increasingly concerned about the frailty of the floor, and then seen where the floor had given way at one point, we made our way out into the sunshine. Giacomo did attempt this leap of faith, only to find that the next room had nothing of interest in it. Merked. 

I did put my Solid Snake attitude on again, and was constantly peeking my head out from behind the blast wall as we made our way along each of the rooms, until we got to the middle anyway. At that point it was a case of 'fuck it, we'll probably be fine'.

We found this lovely looking specimen in one room just before I was opening what was an oddly heavy door. 

It was marked 'Brassery' (I think) and just as I was about to remark how heavy it was, the fucker dropped an inch! As the boom echoed around the fort and I recovered from my minor heart attack, Giacomo pointed out that it had probably just come off of a hinge. Fucking lucky it didn't fall over though, even luckier that it didn't fall on me!

We had a look down in the opposite Caponier to where we came, which muchly confused me initially due to the road block fence viewed from a distance. It was in a very similar condition, having had its floor removed. At this point time was getting on, so we started to make our way back out.

But of course we couldn't go without the inevitable....


I left my signature for the po po too.

All in all this was a great explore, great to see a site that hasn't been feasted on by vandals or graffiti artists. Going over a few other reports it looks like we missed the middle caponier and actually going on top of the fort. We found out afterwards that part of the barracks is being regenerated, so it wasn't a live military site, and the Fort itself is considered 'surplus' land. Giacomo and I agreed that this was definitely the best of the places that we have explored, although we're probably going to go for something a bit more industrial next time. That said, we will definitely be doing a revisit at some point and actually getting the blasted tripod out of the car! 

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