Posts Tagged ‘Security’

This post continues from Part 1.

From 1827 the tunnels had remained derelict although from graffiti carved into chalk walls, it is known that soldiers were based there guarding an ammunition store in the 1850’s and 60’s. This is because they were on high alert for invasion although this threat never came to anything. In the First World War, the same tunnels were also mainly used for ammunition storage and perhaps as emergency stationing for soldiers about to make their short trip across the channel to the trenches of Northern France and Belgium. The tunnels were under the control of the Royal Navy during the First World War.

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Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsey who died in 1945 from a plane crash. Photo from FanPop.com

Without much action for the next two decades, the tunnels were called back into action when the Second World War commenced. They were first converted into an air-raid shelter in 1939 although later became a secret military command centre and underground hospital. In May 1940 Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsey directed the biggest operation ever seen at the site, from deep inside the White Cliffs, – Operation Dynamo, also known as the evacuation of Dunkirk.

The tunnels needed to be upgraded and transformed and this was a big mission itself. Over three miles of new and secret tunnels were dug out (by hand) to accommodate these changes. New levels of tunnels were commissioned from 1941 to provide separate, hidden and secure centres of operations for Army, Air Force and Navy. Many of the older tunnels were fired back into use by being lined with plywood or corrugated iron, of which much remains today. In addition space was needed for kitchens and mess rooms, maintenance and communications centres, barrack accommodation and a hospital for the wounded. The existing casemates were converted into offices, workshops, a telephone exchange, generator and planning rooms.

By the end of the war there were completed tunnels on three levels, one below the other.

A – Annex level, which from 1941 contained the hospital, dormitories, kitchens and mess rooms.

The planned B – Bastion level, behind Casemate level, was to be combined military headquarters and dormitories, but was never completed and never used.

C – Casemate level (the original 1797 tunnels and casemates planned by Twiss), held Admiralty Headquarters’ plotting, telecommunications and planning rooms, workshops and offices.

D – Dumpy level, the lowest level, built in 1942, was intended to be the main operations headquarters for the Army and Air Force.

Wartime life at Dover Castle

Photos Copyright English Heritage Photo Library

Post War

The DUMPY sign still at the Castle.

The Admiralty retained an interest in the tunnels until 1958 when they were handed over to the Home Office for a new defence function – a Regional Seat of Government to be used in the event of a nuclear war. The final phase of the working life of the tunnels came in the 1960s during the Cold War when tensions between East and West were at their height. The Cuban missile crisis of 1962, with its serious threat of nuclear war, particularly concentrated the minds of politicians and military planners in Britain. The government response was to identify a number of sizeable and secure fall-out shelters from which some vestige of local organisation could be continued in the event of a nuclear attack by the USSR. Dumpy level of Dover’s still secret, underground tunnels was chosen as the Regional Seat of Government for South East England, known as R.S.G.12. This Government centre was to be controlled by a cabinet minister with a staff of service personnel and civilian administrators after a nuclear war.

The work of converting the tunnels started again although this time converting them into radiation proof T.V. and radio studios, living accommodation and operations centre. Doomsday rehearsals and civil defence training were carried out regularly in the modified tunnels throughout the 1960s although the tunnels became increasingly difficult to maintain (and keep secret) during the 1970s. It was also realised that the porous chalk would have offered barely any protection against contaminated rainwater percolating down from any nuclear winter at ground level. The tunnels were abandoned as a Regional Seat of Government but were kept secret until 1986 when they were passed into the hands of English Heritage for eventual opening to the public.

Present Day

Scent bottlesToday English Heritage take pride in creating a realistic experience for people to a glimpse into what it would have been like during the war. The tunnels are open to the public with tours available for free (entrance fee to the site applies). While some of the tunnels maintain the wartime look and feel, some are making the most of technology with projections and immersive sound effects. Bottles like these are used to create realistic smells of some unusual things such as the boiler room, beef and a general musty smell.

Walking past these bungalows you wouldn’t think anything of them – they’re just someone’s average home, but the buildings are far from average, they were actually built to withstand an atomic explosion.

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This photo, taken by the United States Air Force, shows how deadly an atomic bomb can be. This community, Hiroshima, was the victim of an atomic bomb on August 5th 1945.

Following the end of the Second World War, in 1946, plans were submitted to build atomic proof bungalows on Canvey Island.

A plan of the houses - find more at CanveyIsland.org

A plan of the houses – find more at CanveyIsland.org

What was planned?

The plans show that they were to be made of 9” brick or 9” Concrete Hollow Blocks and waterproof cement rendering with bitumen felt flat roofs. The houses were either to have a flat roof or a pitched one. The floor on the first floor states 5” ‘Hyrib’ or 9” Hollow Concrete Blocks.

The single bungalow to the west of Miramar Avenue was originally supposed to be a pair and further west, stretching to Maple Way, there were plans for three sets of four three-bedroomed terraced houses with a balcony over the doorway, built on similar lines to the bungalows.

The Atomic bungalows, at the junction of Long Road/Miramar Avenue were originally going to be the start of a large estate of houses and bungalows spreading all the way to Maple Way to the West and North for A. De Angelis Esq but, for an unknown reason, the estate never materialised.

Today

The bungalows that remain today would not be strong enough to cope with a modern day bomb (and most likely one from the 1940s either) although they are a fascinating historic relic. It is possible that they were merely built in a design similar to that of American ‘ranch’ style houses of the time, hence their association with being ‘atomic proof’. We will never know if they would’ve stood up to a 1940s Russian atom bomb or resulting radiation, but it is unlikely.

 

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Now lying derelict with overgrown grass, collapsed ceilings and smashed windows, this building once held over a thousand students and staff. With the building getting older year on year and student numbers on the up, the school packed up its bags in 2011 and moved to a brand new school building, leaving this site to decay. With written permission from the property owners, we proceeded to the site of my (BTP Joe’s) old school, to tour the decaying site with the previous headteacher Russell Sullivan.

Please note that this was a permission only visit and  you should not attempt to access the site for both your safety and trespassing laws. There is 24/7 security on site.

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The site has been left empty for the past three years with no plans for re-using the buildings. Occasionally, Essex Police have used the exterior and interior of the school for armed police exercises and bullet shells are scattered around with police tape covering doors and windows of the building. Over an extended Christmas break at end of the 2011, staff packed up all of the equipment, books and more to move them to their brand new site at Canvey’s town centre. In January 2012, staff and students moved into the new building, with staff having to leave furniture and memories behind.

A final message from students and staff

Castle View School opened its brand news doors to the new £2.4 million state of the art school in 1980 as the 3rd secondary school on Canvey Island, due to increased pupil numbers, joining Cornelius and Furtherwick Park. The school welcomed a year group at a time, starting with 150 year 7 pupils. The school building was built in two phases, with the main building being built first followed by the second part (the now sports block) afterwards. Beyond the Point has tracked down the first head teacher of the site and also the head teacher who oversaw the planning for the new build; Jack Telling and Russell Sullivan.

CVS Futuristic

The building was designed by County Hall architect David Schreiber and was built in only 18 months. It had been planned to be built in three phases, although only two of the stages ended up being constructed. With only one year starting at a time, the building work didn’t prove too intrusive to pupils or staff. The main block was described in local newspapers as ‘space age’ due to it being solar heated as the heat of the sun would warm the building up. The following year in February 1981, the school was officially opened.

The Headteacher who opened the school was Jack Telling, who came from a Colchester school where he was deputy head for six years. Jack was appointed Head one term in advance of the opening when the building was at foundation level and had the opportunity to discuss with the architect aspects of of the building. It was Jack who oversaw the official opening for the school and secured its place within the community.

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Beyond the Point also managed to track down some of the first students. Karen Daykin-Woodberry (front left) was in the second year of students there. Karen remembers how great the school was, it even appeared on TV for being so advanced but she also recalls jealousy from other schools who didn’t like the fact that Castle View was so modern. Another key thing that Karen recalls is how friendship lasts as over 30 years later she is still friends with the Head Girl from her year, Kerry Starling (front right). Kerry also recalls how the school was great; the facilities, the technology, the new hockey pitch and music department and Kerry says she felt privileged to be there.

From The Evening Echo 10/10/1980

Jack remained at the school for 6 years, leaving in 1986 (see right), to become the head of St. Martins school in Brentwood. Taking over from him was Eileen Simmons. Eileen remained at the school until 1997. One of the biggest changes during her time at the school was the introduction of the maths block. This was added in 1994 when the school became grant maintained. The set of maths classrooms was officially opened by Falklands War Hero Simon Weston and the building became known as the Simon Weston building from then on.

Taking over in 1997 was Russell Sullivan who is the longest serving head teacher to date. Asking Russell if he remembers his first day, he responded “My first day? Yes, very well.” Russell joined Castle View in 1997, the day after the Nation learnt of Princess Diana’s death. Russell remembers how he arrived at the start of the new term with students and staff shocked by her death. Russell’s first assemblies at the school started with a minute’s silence in memory of the Princess. Over the next thirteen years at the school, Russell had welcomed myself to Castle View (in 2008), he had introduced new state of the art science labs and started planning for the new £28 million building, over ten times the cost of the original school. Upon Russell leaving the current head teacher joined the school, Gill Thomas, who oversaw the finalisation of the plans and the transition into the new building. (Also, when I started at Castle View in 2008, I was in the same class as her son, Daniel!)

Russell Sullivan, back left.

Click to view larger: The back of the new Castle View School

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“We were saddened by the images of the buildings now rapidly falling into disrepair and being ravaged by vegetation.”

Speaking to Russell, Jack, Karen and Kerry, they all agreed that the building looked a sorry sight and Russell agrees that it was still right for the school to move to a new building.

Although the old Castle View was well looked after and respected by its pupils, it was becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to maintain. It was also becoming rather cramped given increasing numbers of pupils. Added to that, we thought that the young people of Canvey deserved better in terms of attractive, state of the art facilities and was so pleased that we were able to seal the deal, after four years of planning, before I retired. Admittedly, it is a shame that more thought has not been given to how the Meppel Avenue site could be used more constructively as a whole. The new college, which was part of our original vision, is a welcome additional opportunity for the young people. – Russell Sullivan

We were saddened by the images of the buildings now rapidly falling into disrepair and being ravaged by vegetation. I hope that an alternative use can be be found for the buildings but in the event of them being demolished let me know so that I can say that I witnessed the birth and death of Castle View at Mepple Avenue. The new buildings look splendid and I wish the new school every success. – Jack Telling

Definitely a shame to see it so neglected. You’ve got to laugh at the old technology now – solar heating and computers! – Kerry Starling

We contacted Castle View School although had no response.

School Prospectus Photos – Summer 2002

Opening of the new Sports and Science Department – October 11th 2004

The Old Site – 2014

Jewel Tower is an overlooked treasure English Heritage holds directly opposite from The Houses of Parliament. It was built from 1365-66 to house the personal treasures of King Edward III – like a giant safe. Then in the early 17th Century the House of Lords used it as a records office, holding valuable documents. It survived a large fire in 1834 which destroyed much of the ‘Old Palace’ (the original Houses of Parliament dating back to the medieval era. From 1869 to 1936 the tower was used by the ‘Board’s Standards Department’ for the standardisation of measurement. Currency, weight, and lengths, were all standardised here – the definition of ‘one inch’, all the way to ‘how heavy should an ounce be?’, was all decided in this historic building.

This photograph, courtesy of English Heritage, shows the tower cramped among many more modern buildings in September 1950. The tower was exposed when these buildings were demolished shortly after.

This photograph, courtesy of English Heritage, shows the tower cramped among many more modern buildings in September 1950. The tower was exposed when these buildings were demolished shortly after.

   The structure is of quite an impressive size considering its publicity for tourists, and is of a rough ‘L’ shape, constructed with Kentish Ragstone, and designed by Henry Yevele. It features a large defensive moat around it still visible today (an artificial body of water surrounding it to prevent enemies entering) which was also used for transportation of the King’s goods. The tower was built in the corner of the Royal Gardens, and its ‘L’ shape is said to be due to King Edward ordering that it didn’t take up any of his garden space.

 

   On the bottom floor it features a fascinating set of ceiling bosses in the Royal Presentation Room, where the King would have been presented with valuable gifts, and meet individuals. Bosses are the meeting points between the ceiling ribs made of a kind of clay which does not fully dry hard – they are still flexible to this day. This acts as a shock-proof way of fixing the ceiling to allow it to move as the foundations move over time. This rare set holds some intricate carvings, making them an incredibly important archaeological artefact.

   Today the tower stands as an excellent English Heritage museum. We explored all the levels, learning about the building and its use whilst taking photographs for this article, and video footage for the video seen at the beginning. We would like to thank the man from English Heritage running the museum at the time, who was based at the downstairs desk. We were very grateful for his information on the ceiling bosses and use of the bottom floor. To add to this, not only did he allow us to film in the building, but he even closed the museum for ten minutes for us to gain some video footage – many thanks sir!

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When we visited the Houses of Parliament last year for the launch of the campaign ‘Archive Awareness’ we were fortunate to meet Clem Brohier who works for the National Archives. Clem invited us for an exclusive tour of the National Archives, and now that we have both finished college for the summer, we headed up to Kew to visit the site. The security on site is very tight (which makes it even more exciting!) so we were unable to take photos of the behind the scene areas so stock images from the National Archives website have been used. (We wouldn’t want to be caught taking photos either!)

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The National Archives are the official archive for the UK Government, holding thousands of documents owned by England and Wales, some documents dating back to over 1,000 years! Over 1 million historical government and public records are held there making it one of the largest archives in the world. From the Domesday Book to modern government papers and digital files, the collects holds many papers, maps, photos, posters, drawings and more. Documents are only made public after 30 years although now it’s becoming closer to 20 years with some released earlier under Freedom of Information requests. Some documents can’t be published immediately as they hold sensitive information about international relations or weaponry, whereas other documents are not as sensitive such as educational bills. Documents from the secret services are not held here, as they are not released at all.

We travelled there by train, travelling through 20 tube stations followed by a short walk to the Archives from Kew Tube Station. The building was opened in 1977 as an additional home for the public records, which were held in a building on Chancery Lane. The site was originally a World War I hospital, which was later used by several government departments. There is also an additional record storage facility (DeepStore) in the worked-out parts of Winsford Rock Salt Mine, Winsford, Cheshire. We were told whilst visiting that this location was secret from the public (we wasn’t told and the tour guides hadn’t even been there) although Wikipedia reveals the location as Winsford and describes the salt mines as:

The United Kingdom’s largest rock salt (halite) mine is at Winsford. Rock salt is quarried from a depth of more than 150 metres below ground with the mine producing 1 million tonnes of rock salt annually, and has a network of 135 miles (217 km) of tunnels over several square miles underneath the area between Winsford and Northwich. A worked-out part of the mine is operated by DeepStore Ltd., a records management company offering a secure storage facility. Confidential government files, hospital patient records, historic archives belonging to The National Archives, and business data are stored in the mine, where the dry and stable atmosphere provides ideal conditions for long-term document storage. Source.

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Digital Storage at the National Archives, london

The National Archives was created in 2003 by combining the Public Record Office and the Historical Manuscripts Commission and is both a non-ministerial government department in its own right and an executive agency reporting to the Secretary of State for Justice. The archive works in preservation rather than restoration, like the Essex Records Office. With roughly 200km worth of shelving at the NA, security is high, including that of damage by fire. They don’t use sprinkler systems as this would damage the documents more, even though most are stored in cardboard boxes – (it was in the news a few years ago about a fire at at art gallery in Scotland where records were damaged by fire and water) so the archive use a special compressed gas system which involves Argon being pumped into the air to remove the oxygen, stopping the fire.

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Clem had kindly organised a selection of documents for us to look at, ranging from local maps and plans to documents signed by a King! We will be covering these soon and we also hope to return to the National Archives at some point as there is so much there – we only saw a very small percentage and the documents there will help to compliment our work in the future. There is also a lot more to Beyond the Point than articles like this, including our Online Shop, Interactive Map and more! A video covering our visit will be published on Beyond the Point TV in the next couple of weeks however the photos from our visit can be seen at our Facebook page (link on the left).

It was now day two the final day of out expedition. Some of us had sunburn from yesterday however we were all ready for the day ahead, being particularly excited at the size of our next site. Our day started by us cooking some bacon and sausages which went down a real treat! We never realised just how many gnats there were the night before with over 20 in the outer-section of our tent! We then tidied up and packed our belongs together and headed off with our lighter bags.

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South-East of our tent

Also known as ‘Curtis & Harvey’s Explosive Factory’ the site is now accompanied by loads of sheep, in which looking at pictures from last year, are a modern addition! According to 28DaysLater.co.uk:

The factory began life as a Gunpowder Works, established in 1892 by Hay, Merricks and Company, gunpowder makersof Roslin, Scotland. It was a specialised Gunpowder Works engaged only in the finishing operations of gunpowder manufacture, namely blending, dusting and packing. A jetty was constructed to receive and dispatch powder and the original licence plan showed it was intended to construct 14 buildings. However, it appears that only two buildings were erected. An amending licence was issued and the site was used for the storage of explosives and electrical detonators, with a potential capacity of 400 tons. During the Great War Curtis’s and Harvey at Cliffe was listed as a place where gunpowder was either manufactured or stored.

The closest explosives factory to Canvey is Wat Tyler in which you can read BTP Liam’s in depth post here. The aerial photo below just shows how big the site was!

The following photo (not courtesy of us) is an OS map from 1897 and shows the site.

Unfortunately there is so little information available on the site and we don’t want to give any incorrect information so below are some photos. I was, however, able to find this. This is the inquest from 1904 that details the death of a man who was injured at the explosives works.

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At this point we had been walking for a total of about one and half hours today and the heat was getting hotter and hotter. At this point is just became unbearable and with a shortage of water, we requested to be picked up.

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Ba Ba Black Sheep…

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After finally crossing this, we had a short walk followed by a short wait and we were picked up. Luckily our ‘shofer’ had brought water and this was a big delight! This then concluded our trip and over 24 hours we had explored more than Time Team and in a third of the time! 3 forts and half of an explosives factory – not bad! We might be returning to the site at a later date to explore it fully, find out more and get some photos but definitely in cooler weather! With thanks to our parents for providing us with the car journeys. That’s all for our camping posts and BTP Liam is now back from holiday who will present you with the next article. We have to good news to tell you as well! This year we have reached (to today) 19,873 website views, which despite it only being August, is over 1,300 more than the whole of last year making our website receive a total of…….drum roll please………42,541 views!! Do keep visiting the website and we’ll see you soon!

Upcoming events: Sunday 25th August 2013 – Bay Museum Plaque Unveiling – Saturday 14th September, stall at the Essex Records Office, 10am-4pm.

Sources: http://www.28dayslater.co.uk/forums/military-sites/70477-explosives-factory-cliffe-march-2012-a.html and http://www.28dayslater.co.uk/forums/military-sites/70477-explosives-factory-cliffe-march-2012-a.html and http://www.derelictplaces.co.uk/main/showthread.php?t=21006#.Uhd0TxsqjzY