Sunday, 20 October 2013

Day of the Dover pt. 3. - Drop Redoubt Open Day - October 2013

I'll fess up now - this one is cheating. Somehow I've always managed to miss the Drop Redoubt open days that the Western Heights Preservation Society put on once or twice a year. However, as sheer luck would have it as we walked from turning down North Entrance to check on St Martin's it turned out that all of those gunshots that we could hear weren't the backdrop of Dover, but rather from re-enactments at one of the elusive openings. Whilst the others had come a way to see Dover, and this would involve a slightly different experience, it seemed silly to turn down the opportunity as I'd been meaning to go to one for quite some time.

Not my picture, but a good external for the scale of the place. 

Some history:

The Drop Redoubt, a detached polygonal structure, is one of the earlier parts of the Western Heights defences. Through the years however, there have been many alterations and modifications including the addition of four caponniers. These powerful brick structures project into the ditch to provide carronade and musketry fire down each section of the surrounding dry ditch and are accessed via stairways from the surface of the Redoubt. Also on the surface are the remains of large casemates, which were the soldiers' quarters and smaller ones in a gorge close to the main entrance, which were for officers. Gun positions still remain on the terreplein, overlooking the town below. The original form of access to the Redoubt was via a drawbridge at the end of Drop Redoubt Road, but this has now been removed, leaving only a Sallyport in the ditch as the current means of access.

We coughed up our £4 (although I did have to borrow mine having left my wallet in the car) and before we could get going ended up talking to a WHPS volunteer who wanted to take exploring, but wasn't sure of a few things. After exchanging a few tips and ever-so-slight brags we commenced photography, which wasn't exactly easy given the abundance of people and the amount of sealed off areas. 

It was quite an odd experience to be exploring and have the following apply:

No smoking
No going off-limits
No need for excessive torch waving whilst light painting
No sneaking around (mostly)
No fun

Being confined to the boundaries was a bit annoying really, but understandable for health and safety. It would have been more enjoyable without dozens of people dressed up for re-enactments running around, and the occasional display guns going off with seemingly little to no prior warning. 

There's not really much to say when it's paying to go in somewhere. We couldn't piss around, and there was no hilarious entry or exit required, it was all a bit bland. 

As I took the below photo the aspiring explorer-to-be heckled me for shooting what used to be the urinals. I honestly didn't know. 

I shouldn't complain really, Drop is a place that, much like Detached, I've wanted to visit for quite some time, so it was nice to get it done, even in these circumstances. 

Thanks again for reading.

(Doing the sig was the only sneaky bit)


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