Defences To Demolition


Dover Express & East Kent News

April 1 1960





Four possible sites for industrial development in Dover were mentioned in reports put before the Town Council on Monday to the Town Planning Committee. The Borough Engineer, Mr D R Bevan reported to the committee that there were twelve acres of land at Elms Vale which were no longer required for educational purposes.

The Engineer said that the land was not in his opinion, suitable for industrial development, having regard especially to its proximity to a large residential area and the cost of services and road widening. But even so planning permission might be forthcoming to use the land for light industrial purposes. The Committee reported that they had instructed the Borough Engineer to seek the approval of the County Council to the zoning of the land for light industrial purposes.

Subject to obtaining approval from the County Council, the committee asked the Town Clerk to open negotiations for the purchase of the land. The second and third sites mentioned in the committee report was War Department land. The Planning Committee reported a letter from the WD land agent giving details of land surplus to military requirements at Archcliffe and the Western Heights and the Borough Engineer stated that approximately 12.5 acres, in the vicinity of Archcliffe Fort was particularly suitable for industrial use. Mr Bevan’s report also said that the acquisition of a further nine acres in the vicinity of Grand Shaft Barracks might also be considered for the same purposes.

Here again the Committee asked the Borough Engineer to seek the approval of the County Council to a zoning for industrial use of the whole of the land mentioned and, subject to that approval, authorised the Town Clerk to open the negotiations for acquisition.

The fourth site is another at Poulton Close, at present earmarked as an educational site. The Committee have asked the Borough Engineer to press the County Council to release for industrial development certain land at Poulton Close at present designated for educational use.


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Dover Express & East Kent News

March 2 1962




Alterations to the Dover Town Map, consequent on the proposed disposal of military land at Archcliffe and Western Heights, have been agreed by the County Planning Authority. The War Department is to transfer 81 acres to the Prison Commissioners for use as a borstal institute and the map will be so amended.

The Planning Committee’s report, approved by the County Council, stated in the case of the remaining land being acquired by the borough the amendments will show:

(a) the allocation of 14 acres at and adjoining the Grand Shaft Barracks and one acre fronting Westbury Crescent primarily for residential use;

(b) allocation of 16.5 acres forming the sites of the RE Headquarters Offices, the Married Soldiers’ HQ, Archcliffe Yard and South Front Barracks for industrial use;

(c) the definition of 1.25 acres, which is part of a medieval moat for the deposit of refuse and waste; and

the inclusion of 118 acres (of which 23.5 acres is already owned by the Borough Council) within an area in which the existing uses are for the most part to remain undisturbed. By far the greater part of this land consists of steeply sloping hillsides, which must of necessity remain undeveloped.


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Dover Express & East Kent News

March 2 1962










NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that proposals for alterations and additions to the above mentioned Development Plan were on the seventh day of March, 1962 submitted to the Minister of Housing and Local Government.

The proposals relate to the land at Archcliffe and Western Heights, Dover, at present defined in the Dover Town Map for War Department use. If the proposals are approved by the minister:-

(a) 15 acres will be allocated primarily for residential use;

(b) 16.5 acres will be allocated for industrial use;

(c) 1.5 acres will be defined for the deposit of household refuse and waste;

(d) 81 acres will be defined for Prison Commission purposes; and

(e) 118 acres will be included within an area in which the existing uses are, for the most part to remain undisturbed.

Certified copies of Written Matter and Plans illustrating the proposal, as submitted to the Minister have been deposited for public inspection as follows:-

(1) The County Hall, Maidstone;

(2) The County Planning Department’s Divisional Office, Cambridge Terrace, Dover;

(3) The Town Clerk’s Office, New Bridge House, Dover.

The copies deposited as mentioned above are available for inspection free of charge by all persons interested at the places mentioned between the hours of 10 am to 12.30 pm and 2.30 pm to 5 pm on Mondays to Fridays. Any objections or representation with reference to the proposals may be sent in writing to the Secretary, Minister of Housing and Local Government, Whitehall, London, SW 1, before the seventh day of May, 1962, and any such objection or representation should state the grounds on which it is made. Persons making an objection or representation may register their names and addresses with the undersigned and will then be entitled to receive notice of any amendment of the Development Plan as a result of the proposals.

Dated this seventh day of March, 1962.

G T Huckels,

Clerk of the County Council.

County Hall, Maidstone


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Dover Express & East Kent News

April 27 1962





Landmark on the Western Heights for over 100 years, the Garrison Church is being demolished. Along with it will go several of the well constructed houses and stores which cluster around the church.

The contract for the demolition work has been awarded to Dover Erection and Demolition Company by the Director of Works of the Prison Commissioners.

The church faced with Kentish rag was erected in 1859 and every Sunday soldiers used to march to the church. Often troops marched from the Castle down into the valley and up Military Road for the parade. The slender belfry and bell of the church can be seen from many parts of the town.

Recently the War Department sold much of the land at the Western Heights. The buyers were Dover Corporation and the Prison Commissioners. The borstal institute is 200 yards from the church. The garrison church is in the vicinity of the foundations of the ancient Round Church said to have belonged to the Knights Templar. But according to some authorities, this Round Church is more likely to have been a roadside shrine in the middle ages when the main Dover / Folkestone road went over the Heights.



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Dover Express & East Kent News

December 1 1962






A firm which manufactures electrical instruments may build a factory at Archcliffe on land which the Corporation is purchasing from the War Department. This was the heartening news given by the Borough Engineer (Mr D R Bevan) to members of the Town Planning Committee at their meeting on Monday.

He was not able to give them many facts, said the Borough Engineer, but he understood the firm hoped to employ between 200 and 300 local people. The firm, the Metal Industries Ltd, of Park Lane, London, had submitted an outline application in respect of the development of about six acres on the north side of Archcliffe Road for light industrial purposes. The Borough Engineer recommended approval subject to the Council’s approval of details before any work was commenced. Another condition was that car-parking space should be provided in accordance with the County Council car-parking standards.

The six acres the firm wanted said the Borough Engineer, represented the entire area from Channel View Road to South Military Road backwards to the barrack buildings.

"The firm are most anxious to get on with this as quickly as possible and have put forward this outline application knowing that the Corporation are still negotiating with the War Department over the land" said the Borough Engineer.

Councillor J E C Bushell said it was an application which he was sure every member of the Council would be delighted to support. "To know that a firm wants to open here even before we officially have the land to offer them is a most heartening thing" he declared.



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Dover Express & East Kent News

January 18 1963


The "go-ahead" has at last been given to Dover Corporation to purchase all the military land on the Western Heights, with the exception of the borstal institution, which was formerly the old Citadel barracks. But although approval has been given to the outline development plans for the land any scheme which involves filling in the network of moats - which cover about 1.25 acres - or dumping refuse will have to be the subject of a separate application to the Ministry of Housing.

This was reported to the Town Planning Committee on Monday by the Town Clerk (Mr J A Johnson). It meant, he said, that they could now proceed to transfer to the AVO factory the land of which they had been in possession for sometime.

Comprising about 126 acres, the land extends from the rear of Clarendon Road, Westbury Crescent and Mount Road, over the top of the hill, encircling the Citadel, and down the other side to the rear of the Corporation’s Ropewalk and Aycliff estates, along to the Shaft barracks and down as far as Cowgate Cemetery. More than 96 acres it is expected, will be unsuitable for any development and will be left as public open spaces. The Grand Shaft Barracks, covering 11 acres, and a further acre of land behind Westbury Crescent, are provisionally earmarked for residential purposes. The other 17-odd acres will probably be used for industrial purposes.

They include the RE Headquarters, the military hospital on the right of Channel View Road, a military yard at Archcliffe and the site of the demolished South Front Barracks.

Negotiations, it was stated, were still taking place with the Commissioners for the preservation of ancient monuments, who are interested in the development of certain sections of the land. For, in the area to be acquired, are two little-known historic monuments - apart from the moats which, it had been hoped, would solve Dover’s tipping problem for several years to come. The Bredenstone, a relic of a Roman Pharos, is one.

Together with the better known and preserved structure adjacent to the Castle it had at one time held a commanding position over the narrow Dour valley leading inland from the sea. Almost hidden on land within the Drop Redoubt, the remains of this one-time domineering tower used to be the site of the meeting place of the Cinque Ports for the installation of the Lord Warden. It was last used in 1913.

The second monument, near the site of the garrison church, which was recently demolished, consists of the foundations of the ancient Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Beside it the house of the Knight Templars once stood.



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Dover Express & East Kent News

March 1 1963



The Corporation is to lease the site of the Old South Front Barracks to Corrall’s as a coal-stacking yard subject to a number of covenants to guard against dust. The lease is for 21 years, at 360 for the first seven years rising to 560 for the last seven. Surface works are to be carried out by the company at an estimated cost of 8000.

Hope that the yard would not become a dust nuisance similar to those caused by the Gas Works, at Union Road, and the railway engine sheds at the Marine Station, was expressed by councillor A H Newland, at Tuesday’s meeting of the Town Council, when the decision to lease the land was approved.

The Mayor (Alderman A E Husk) assured him that every possible consideration had been given to this possibility and it was hoped the safeguards and conditions attached to the granting of approval for the development would be adequate.


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Dover Express & East Kent News

November 29 1963





An end to the long drawn-out negotiations with the War Department for the acquisition of military land at the Western Heights, may be in sight. The Town Planning Committee has recommended that the acquisition should go ahead and, on Tuesday, the Town Council went into secret session to discuss the matter.

It was revealed that the purchase price for the land has been fixed, provisionally, at 20,250. This is 2000 less than had earlier been proposed. The reason for the reduction is the fact that the Corporation will be put to considerable expense in constructing a new access road to the Heights. Earlier this year the bridge over the moats, and the tunnel at the top of Military Road, were closed to traffic. The bridge could have been repaired and it had been suggested that access might be improved by demolishing the old tunnel, but both the moats and the tunnel have been classified as ancient monuments.


This means that it would not be possible to demolish or alter the tunnel to any significant extent, and the result is that there is now only one vehicular access to the Western Heights - by way of the South Front road.


Consequently, the Corporation sought, and obtained, the right to span the moats with a new bridge, which will re-open the more popular route to the Heights by way of Military Road.



It is the intervention of the Ministry of Works, and the subsequent designation of a considerable portion of the land and historic features as ancient monuments, which has caused the negotiations to be so drawn-out. At one time the Corporation had proposed that the moats should be used for refuse disposal and filled in, but some of them, together with other sites are to be excluded from the sale of the land.



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Dover Express & East Kent News

November 29 1963



The Bredenstone at the Western Heights is the remains of a Roman Tower, described by the writer Lambarde as "both a pharos for the comfort of sailors and also a watch house for the defence of the inhabitants."

In the sixteenth century many knew it as the "Devil’s drop of mortar"; they were convinced that the strange monolith protruding through the hilltop had, indeed, been dropped by the devil. The Bredenstone, in later times, formed the meeting place of the Barons of the Cinque Ports for the Installation of the Lord Warden. The ancient place of meeting was at Shepway Cross at Lympne which was a convenient centre between all ports.

From 1688, all the Installation ceremonies took place on the Western Heights around Bredenstone, down to the Installation of the Marquis of Dufferin and Ava in 1892. Since then as a matter on convenience, they have been held at the Close of Dover College. The adaptation of the Western Heights for military purposes commenced during the American War.

"Previous to that" writes John Bavington Jones, "the inhabitants of Dover, foot and fancy free, were able to roam at will over these breezy hills."


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Dover Express & East Kent News

January 3 1964



The Grand Shaft Gymnasium, which the Corporation intend to convert into an indoor sports arena at a cost of 3000, promises to be heavily booked when it opens, probably sometime in the autumn. Already two five-a-side football competitions, with games on two or three evenings a week, are planned, and other sports clubs have expressed an interest in the facilities to be provided.

But this week the Entertainments Committee learned that conveyance of the property from the War Department is taking time and may hold up the plans. Nevertheless it is hoped that the sports centre will be ready for use sometime in October. Within a short time of the announcement, in the "Dover Express" in April, that the Entertainments Committee was considering converting the gymnasium into a sports centre, over 30 clubs revealed that they intended to enter the proposed football competitions.

More evidence of the demand for indoor sports facilities was given to the Committee on Monday when it was reported that 30 cricket clubs also wish to use the arena for practise purposes. Early next month a special sub-committee, appointed several months ago, to deal with detailed planning will hold its first meeting.



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Dover Express & East Kent News

February 5 1965



Dover Corporation has granted the contract for the demolition of former military buildings at the Grand Shaft Barracks to the Folkestone Demolition Company which bid 3100 for the job. Five other tenders were received with "bids" ranging from 3057 to a suggested payment of 1500 by the Corporation to any firm interested in the work. Last week the Town Council authorised the placing of the Corporation seal on a document conveying over 100 acres of War Department land at Archcliffe and the Western Heights to the town. The County Planning Department has agreed to the allocation of about 14 acres for residential purposes, 16 for industrial development and most of the remainder, which is steeply sloping land, will probably remain undisturbed.




The foundations of the church of the Knights Templar, part of the moats and the site of the remains of the Bredenstone or Pharos, have been classified as being of historic interest and will be preserved. At one time the Corporation proposed to fill in some of the moats with household refuse but there was a suggestion that 120 acres of land should be scheduled as an ancient monument which would have virtually sterilised the property.

The Corporation protested that this was nonsense and the Ministry of Works revised its proposals so as to preserve only the features of obvious historical interest.



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Dover Express & East Kent News

April 9 1965



Armed police, bodies in a row against a wall - and a film crew. This was the scene at the Grand Shaft Barracks this week during the making of a BBC film on nuclear war. The barracks were chosen as a location because contractors are tearing them down, creating the effects of an atomic blast. Taking part in the film are hundreds of local people. Filming is continuing this week-end and many five-day-a-weekers will join in as extras.



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Dover Express & East Kent News

October 1 1965



The Borough Engineer, Dr David Bevan, has revealed to the Corporation’s Town Planning Committee that it is not proposed to re-open North Military Road - commonly known as military hill. Officially closed because of the deteriorating state of the old bridges spanning the moats, Military Road is still widely used - at motorists’ own risk.

A barrier was erected to stop traffic but drivers can still use the road because it falls short of the total width. Whether this practice will be ignored much longer by the authorities, however, remains to be seen. Although it is not planned to re-open the old road, there is a scheme, said the Borough Engineer, to provide a new alternative access route to the Heights and Borstal, via, Durham hill.

Mr Bevan said the old road would probably become obsolete as a traffic route, but continue in use as a pedestrian footway.



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Dover Express & East Kent News

January 14 1966



The Corporation is still hoping to go ahead with plans to fill in sections of the moats, demolish the bridges and improve access to the properties on the Western Heights from the town centre via North Military Road.

This was disclosed on Monday when the Town Planning Committee approved the inclusion of 500 in the estimates for road and bridge works at Archcliffe and surface dressing Military Hill itself.


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Dover Express & East Kent News

January 21 1966



Excavation work is now in progress for the foundations of Dover’s new factory-Racole’s, at Channel View Road, Archcliffe.

Racole Trading and Manufacturing Company Ltd - they make tubular ladders and scaffolding - hope to employ about sixty men at Dover. A spokesman for the firm at Battersea said this week that they plan to start operations at Dover in April.

The transfer of operations from London to Dover would be gradual, and might not be completed for two years, said the spokesman. The firm won an Industrial Development Certificate from the Board of Trade to build the factory at Dover. This followed representations by Mr David Ennals, M.P.

The new factory will have a floor area of up to 25,000 square feet and additional warehouse accommodation of 15,000 square feet. It is near AVO’s factory now under construction at Archcliffe.


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Dover Express & East Kent News

January 28 1966








Machinery working in a morass of mud this week. Excavations have started for Racole’s new factory at Archcliffe. Racole’s, the manufacturers of tubular ladders, will bring extra work for Dover men when they transfer from London later this year. The site is at Channel View Road, near AVO’s new factory.



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Dover Express & East Kent News

October 7 1966








ADMIRAL OF THE FLEET, the Earl Mountbatten of Burma, is coming to Dover this month - for the formal opening of AVO’s factory at Archcliffe (pictured right).

The Earl has been invited to open the factory on Monday, 14th October because of his interest in scientific instrument research and exports. About 100 guests are expected including customers from Holland. Senior members of Metal Industries Ltd - the group to which AVO belongs - will be at the opening including the chairman, Mr A L Mackenzie, and the managing director, Mr John Black. The chairman of AVO, Mr J E Hinde, will also be present. The Mayor, Councillor Ernest Pittock, and senior Corporation officials have also been invited. Following a tour of the factory there will be a lunch at Dover Town Hall. A few days later, on 5th November, there will be an open day at the factory when 700 employees will be able to take their families to their work rooms.



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Dover Express & East Kent News

December 9 1966



Dover’s new factory - it will employ 40 people - began operations this week. Racole (Trading and Manufacturing) Co. Ltd. have opened their Archcliffe factory with nine men working there this week. The factory site, off Channel View Road, can be extended to cover three acres. The present factory is 120 feet by 105 feet. By the spring it is expected that about 36 men and seven women will be working at the factory.

Racole’s make mild-steel ladders. Much of their machinery will be moved in next week. The firm has transferred from London where, later, their factory will be closed. Works Superintendent at Dover is Mr. Ken Wild.



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Dover Express & East Kent News

February 10 1967



The Ministry of Public Building and Works has agreed in principle to make a contribution of 12,000 towards the cost of a new access road to the Western Heights from Military Road. The scheme has been made necessary by the decision of the Ministry to preserve and maintain the historical features of the Western Heights including the Napoleonic fortifications.

These range from the moats and Drop Redoubt to the bridge over the moats at the top of South Military Road and the adjoining tunnel through which the road passes on its way to the top of the rise.

The preservation of the bridge and tunnel, which at one stage it was proposed should be demolished to improve access to the Heights, is believed to involve closure of the road at that point - giving rise to the need for a re-routing of the road across the moats at another point.

The Corporation’s plan is to fill in a section of the moats to enable a road to be carried across. The re-routed South Military Road would then reach the top of the hill via the site of a house adjoining "Beechcroft". Included in the provisional figure of 12,000 is a sum of 1,500 estimated to be the value of the house which will have to be demolished.


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Dover Express & East Kent News

July 14 1967



Work is about to start on driving through the new road from Military Hill into the Western Heights.   It will help to open up the Heights, much of which is now owned by Dover Corporation.  It will be a combined operation with Dover Corporation, the army, and borstal boys all helping.  The army are supplying Royal Engineers to help remove thousands of tons of chalk; the borstal boys are salvaging flints for re-use throughout the network of moats at the Heights.

One section of the road will be beneath the level of the moat.  About 45,000 tons of chalk and earth will have to be excavated and this will be carried to the Eastern Docks to reclaim more land for the hoverport.


At present access to the Heights from Military Hill is gained over a drawbridge and through a winding tunnel.   The tunnel - unique as a Napoleonic fortification - will not be touched during the operation.  The Heights have been rescheduled on the planning maps to provide homes, industry, and open spaces.  Another access road from Aycliff has been widened and is in use.


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Dover Express & East Kent News

August 4 1967


The County Council, as planning authority,  last week announced that they had given permission to Racoles to make further excavations at the Western Heights.  The area to be cut out will give a plateau of 2.5 acres further factory development.  This, in time, will provide more scope for employment. 

The planners say the exposed chalk must be grassed and that cartage of chalk - mostly to the Eastern Docks - must be during defined hours and along special routes.


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Dover Express & East Kent News

February 16 1968


The cost to the town of the acquisition from the War Department of the Western Heights and a number of former military buildings is put at 20,250 in the estimates of the Town Planning Committee considered this week.  But it appears that the outlay on the purchase of this valuable housing and industrial land will be adequately met from from the resale of some of the site , already totalling 17,250.


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Dover Express & East Kent News

May 10 1968


Dover Town Council is to seek the views of the County Council on the possibility of future housing development on the site of the old Grand Shaft Barracks - now demolished.  this follows an enquiry, from a party interested in the possibility of such development,which was considered in private by the Town Planning Committee in April.

The Committee, after hearing a report buy the Borough Engineer, Mr. David Bevan, recommended that as a first step the preliminary views of the KCC should be sought.


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Dover Express & East Kent News

February 7 1969


Members of Dover Town Council are to hear shortly about plans to develop one of the best sites in the town - on land at the Western Heights.

the area is above the Grand Shaft where barracks once stood.  The natural slope oft the land makes it a giant arena and is ideally suitable for flats and, possibly an hotel.  The town planning committee has already received two outline proposals for the area and a third is awaited.

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More to follow....