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Sunday, 20 October 2013

Day of the Dover pt. 2 - Detached Bastion, Western Heights, Dover - October 2013

After a couple of deep shelters, it was time for a bit of variety. I'd heard on the grapevine about six weeks ago that something that I was missing from my Western Heights collection had opened up. Having previously been to Western Heights several times with varying levels of success it always seemed to be Detached Bastion that eluded me, having been sealed in a grand way shortly before I started my exploring career. 


Some history (copied from Underground Kent, who for some reason have disabled right clicking on the page. Can't disable viewing the source though)

The North Centre and Detached Bastions are located between the Drop Redoubt and the Citadel on the Western Heights.  Their purpose was to assist in defending the northern approaches to Dover, particularly from the Folkestone Road, along which it was envisaged Napoleon and the French Grand Army would attack.

Work on the North Centre Bastion began in 1804 as part of the main Western Heights works, although it was incomplete in 1815 when Napoleon was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo.  In 1859 the Royal Commission which called for modification across the Western Heights reviewed the unfinished North Centre Bastion.  Work began on its completion and the construction of the Detached Bastion and its caponier. They were armed throughout the main phase of occupation at the Western Heights, but along with the rest of the fortress, its decline was rapid and at the turn of the century its guns were removed.  The bastions saw very little use after this time, with only local defence use during both World Wars.

The Army relinquished the Western Heights after the Second World War and the North Centre and Detached Bastions have remained empty and unused since.  Despite the surrounding ditches becoming very overgrown, the bastions have been very vandalised.




After finding a way in (not entirely sure if it was the one that Wevsky alluded to, but thanks anyway) we made our way in, and it became quickly apparent that my torch batteries were not going to hold up, and whilst changing them lost track of which ones were new, and which ones were already in the torch. Oops. 


After being struck by the bug of bulb lighting I had a go at lighting the entirety of this incredibly long corridor. My first attempt (above) was scarpered by light from Ash and friend at the end of the tunnel, and being slightly out of focus. After getting them out of the way and refocusing I had another go (below). This took me 247.8 seconds; almost five minutes.


A brief crawl after this led through to what I guess may have the tunnel through to the North Centre. There were some interesting features around here, such as a well and a very large firepit with chimney, although me being me I didn't take those photos, and concentrated on my arch-porn instead. 



The stairs to the roof still existed in places, although most were bricked off. The only one open was the other side of a broken drawbidge, which none of us could be bothered with crossing. Maybe next time...


After completing the main section of the bastion we headed back to the caponier, the photos of which make it arguably the defining feature of Detached. Unfortunately my torch was dying a horrible death at this point, so focusing went a bit to pot. 


The above came out nicely though, and I spotted a certain 'Steve and Justin' had left their signatures on the beam below.


Well there we have it, I finally got around to doing Detached Bastion (or Big Smokey as the locals call it). Lots of photos I missed though, so may be heading back to this one soon.

Thanks for reading.


SJP

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