Grand Shaft Upper Steps, Western Heights, Dover, Kent, United Kingdom

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Comments (8)

John Latter on March 9, 2007

Access to the Grand Shaft triple-staircase from the top showing the 'bowl' within which the shaft is located. Built between 1806-9 during the Napoleonic Wars. John Latter / Jorolat

John Latter on May 10, 2007

Standard Info:

Legend has it that one staircase was labelled "Officers and their Ladies", the second, "Senior NCO's and their Wives", and the third, "Other Ranks and their Women".

From a military point of view, however, it would make sense - particularly during an 'emergency' - to introduce a dynamically allocated 'one-way' system.

If troops needed to be quickly dispatched to the port area below, for example, then designating, say, two of the staircases to be 'down only' would result in an unimpeded descent.

Image/photo taken on 5th June, 2005.

Click for information on open days.

The Grand Shaft, built between 1806-1809, is only part of Dover's extensive Napoleonic defenses - click on Western Heights and then check the tag list for all the locations covered (eg Drop Redoubt, North Centre Bastion, North Entrance - more will be added as time goes on).

Also see St Martin's Battery

Work began on Dover's Western Heights fortifications in the 1770s and was intensified, first in the early 1800s because of Napoleon I (Napoleon Bonaparte), and again in the mid-Nineteenth Century because of Napoleon III (originally known as Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte).

john hand on September 27, 2007

I was at the grand shaft barracks as a child about 1933 My father was with the Dorset regiment. The three entrances were labeled Officers, NCO's and Men. As A child I was told this was to prevent the various ranks meeting on the Very narrow stair way

John Latter on September 27, 2007

john hand said:

I was at the grand shaft barracks as a child about 1933 My father was with the Dorset regiment. The three entrances were labeled Officers, NCO's and Men. As A child I was told this was to prevent the various ranks meeting on the Very narrow stair way

Thanks, John - It's always good to read first-hand accounts!

The Dorset Regiment has the 2nd Battalion deployed in Dover from 1932 to 1936

John Latter on November 16, 2010

The Grand Shaft Underground Triple Stairway, Western Heights, Dover, is a Grade II Listed Building (1).

The following is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence (PSI licence number C2010002016):

Building Details:

Building Name: GRAND SHAFT STAIRS AND ATTACHED RAILINGS

Parish: DOVER

District: DOVER

County: KENT

Postcode:

Details:

LBS Number: 469563

Grade: II

Date Listed: 08/07/1998

Date Delisted:

NGR: TR3160540907

Listing Text:

TR 34 SW DOVER DROP REDOUBT ROAD (south side), Western Heights 865/7/10008 Grand Shaft stairs and attached railings

II

Underground spiral stair. 1803-05, by Sir Thomas Hyde Page, RE, under Lt Col William Twiss, RE Divisior Engineer. Brick and cast-iron. Three concentric flights of winder stairs round an open shaft, the opening at the top, with curved stairs meeting in a single flight up to the former parade ground in front of the barracks.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: iron railings with urn finials found top of shaft and to stairs up, with a lamp standard on the stairs.

HISTORY: connected the Grand Shaft Barracks (demolished) with Snargate Street at the base of the cliffs, to allow the rapid movement of troops between the barracks and the shore. The three stairs were designated for 'gentlemen and their ladies, officers and their wives, and soldiers and their women'. A 'bold and imaginative solution to communication problems (and) a unique piece of military engineering.' (Coad) (Post Medieval Arch: Coad J: The Later Fortifications of Dover: 1982-: 141-200).

Listing NGR: TR3110241449

Source: English Heritage. Click to see photos of Listed Buildings and English Heritage locations in the town of Dover, England.

(1) Grade II: buildings that are "nationally important and of special interest".

John Latter / Jorolat

Dover Blog: The Psychology of a Small Town

This is the Images of Dover website: click on any red or blue "John Latter" link to access the Entry Page.

M.B. Brown on May 18, 2011

John, I've enjoyed your excellent photos as well as your history lessons on flickr. Now I'm enjoying them on Panoramio as well! Cheers to you!

John Latter on May 19, 2011

M.B. Brown, on May 18th, 2011, said:

John, I've enjoyed your excellent photos as well as your history lessons on flickr. Now I'm enjoying them on Panoramio as well! Cheers to you!

Thank you very much, M.B. Brown :)

I'm always pleased when someone says they read the captions - they can take ages to write!

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on March 9, 2007
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX Optio 33LF
    • Taken on 2005/06/05 10:34:54
    • Exposure: 0.013s (1/80)
    • Focal Length: 5.80mm
    • F/Stop: f/4.800
    • ISO Speed: ISO100
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • Flash fired

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