The first stone defence of the River Medway dated from the late 14th century when Queenborough Castle was built.
Chatham started to be used by the Royal Navy as a dockyard in the mid 16th century. There was a gun battery at Gillingham and a blockhouse at Sheerness, but in order to protect the dockyard and ships more effectively, the construction of Upnor Castle upriver began in 1559 and in 1585 a chain was added across the River Medway to the dockyard. In the 1620s, the dockyard was greatly enlarged, and a brick wall was built around it.
In the mid 17th century a new chain protected by gun platforms was placed between Hoo Ness island and Gillingham and work was started to build a new fort at Sheerness. A warship was also stationed off Sheerness as extra protection. After the Dutch attacked Chatham in 1667 and destroyed the partly built Sheerness fort, it was rebuilt in 1669 and two extra gun batteries (Cockham Wood Battery and Gillingham Battery) were also added in 1669 as extra defences.
Although the approaches from the sea were now protected, there was concern the the French could invade and attack the dockyard from the land. In 1756 a line of bastioned fortifications, the Cumberland Lines, were started around the dockyard of Chatham and the town of Brompton, a mile and a half in length. Two extra defences were built at each end, Townsend and Amherst Redoubts. At the beginning of the 19th century Amherst redoubt was greatly strengthened and became known as Fort Amherst. The Cumberland Lines themselves were also extended to the north to cover the enlarged dockyard and the village of St.Mary's. At the same time further Medway defences were added, Fort Pitt (1805-1819), a pentagonal bastioned fort and Fort Clarence (1805-1811), a large brick gun tower with defensive ditches to the south of Rochester Castle.
In the 1870s, in keeping with more modern defence theory, a series of outlying polygonal forts were built around the south, south-east and east edges of Chatham to defend the dockyard. Neither these forts nor the Chatham lines were ever attacked thanks to the ability of the Royal Navy to prevent an enemy from crossing the channel.
|Queenborough Castle||Built to defend the River Swale. Now vanished.||1361-1367|
|Gillingham Fort||Part of the dockyard defence dating from 1669, replacing Upnor Castle. Now vanished.||1669|
|Cockham Wood Fort||There are some overgrown but visible remains of the 1669 fort built on the north side of the river opposite Gillingham. It had 2 tiers of guns, 21 on the lower tier and 20 on the upper and was surrounded by a dry ditch and earthworks. It fell into ruins by the end of 18th century.||1669|
|Cumberland Lines||These surrounded the whole east side of the dockyard down to St Mary's Island. Now almost completely built over.||1756|
|Townsend Redoubt||Built over.||1756|
|Fort Amherst||Open, being restored.||1756|
|Fort Pitt||In use until 1828, then used as a hospital until 1919. The site has been used as a school since 1929 and although much of the structure has been built over parts of the walls and ditches still remain. Private.||1805-1819|
|Fort Clarence||On the east bank of the Medway, it has a three storey tower. Now converted to flats.||1808-1812|
|Grain Fort||On eastern end of the Isle of Grain. Demolished in 1962.||1860's|
|Grain Dummy Battery||South of Grain Fort, in fair condition.||1860's|
|Grain Tower Battery||Off shore of Grain Fort, in fair condition.||1855|
|Garrison Point Fort||On the north-western tip of Sheerness Docks. Private.||1872|
|Slough Fort||On the north coast of the Hoo peninsula, it is now a riding stable.||1860-1868|
VICTORIAN SEA DEFENCES
|Darnet Fort||A circular fort on an island in the Medway built between 1861 and 1872. Armed with 11 seven & 9 inch RMLs, manned by a complement of 100. It can be visited by boat. Photo and map below.||1871|
|Hoo Fort||Same design as Darnet, 1km away on another island in the Medway. Built on the site of a 17th century gun battery. Private. Photo and map below.||1871|
VICTORIAN LAND DEFENCES
In use until 1961, now being restored and open to the public.
|1876 - 92|
|Fort Borstal||On high ground overlooking Chatham. In poor condition, private.||1875 -85|
|Fort Horsted||Now used as a business centre, private.||1870 -1900|
|Twydall Redoubts||Near the coast east of Gillingham at Grange & Twydall.||1885|
|Fort Bridgewoods||The site was demolished in 1975.||1890|
|Fort Darland||The site was demolished in 1960's.||1893 - 1899|
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