The Grand Shaft


Here’s something you probably didn’t know about the White Cliffs of Dover. Inside the cliff above the town of Dover lies a shaft carved through the rock, with three concentric spiral staircases. These were built between 1806 and 1809 in order to get troops down to the harbor in a hurry. Take a look at this marvel of engineering at deputydog.

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Question for #5 Rosi: if you live nearby, do you know if the 19th century gun turret is still there on Admiralty Pier? That was an incredible relic. It didn't look like much, just a low circular building, but inside were a pair of 16 inch caliber muzzle loading cannons, with the steam rammers to load them and run them out. I have photos of that too, somewhere.
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I went down this shaft when I was in Dover once, about 25 years ago. At the time it was completely derelict - the gates at the top were welded shut and the tunnel mouth was bricked up, and the bottom of the shaft was full of trash including the wreck of an old car! I have some photos somewhere. I'm so glad to see someone had the grace to restore it, instead of just filling it in.
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Also in the cliffs of Dover there is a bomb shelter, and secret tunnels and rooms were cut into the chalk during WW2 and used as a military HQ. The earlier shaft is just a small part of it. I think there are also tunnels built underneath Dover castle (on top of the cliffs) which are from medieval time, but if I remember correctly most of them are closed off now. But the best bit about the cliffs is the small terrace built on the very top of the cliffs (attached to the castle) looking out over the sea. If you're ever in the area, visiting Dover Castle and the wartime tunnels is a pretty good day out. I live pretty close, and I've been there at least three times now, and its still fun.
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