John Latter, Main Magazine, North Centre Bastion, Western Heights, Dover, Kent, UK

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John Latter on November 21, 2007

More historical (or hysterical) photos of myself taken between the ages of 16 and 19 (ie 1967 - 1970) while I was an "Apprentice Tradesman" at the Royal Corps of Signals Army Apprentices College in Harrogate, Yorkshire, training to be a 'Radio-Relay Technician':

1) 67C Recruit Squadron Group Photo

2) 67C Recruit Squadron Close-Up

3) Senior Term 1970 Group Photo

4) Senior Term 1970 Close-Up

Daniel Mitin on November 22, 2007

Hmm, so you used the self timer instead of a buddy. Is it ever scary going in places like that alone? The ghosts that I encounter aren't scary most of the time, they are just jerks.

Daniel Mitin on November 22, 2007

This was taken 5 days before Boris Yeltsin died, and I remember because I was in San Francisco, CA at the time. Thanks for the memories.

John Latter on November 23, 2007

Daniel Mitin said:

Hmm, so you used the self timer instead of a buddy. Is it ever scary going in places like that alone? The ghosts that I encounter aren't scary most of the time, they are just jerks.

I was first taken to the North Centre Bastion when I was about three and began unsupervised exploration with my friends from the age of about six onwards. Consequently, I am very familiar with the layout.

Having said that, it is a very dangerous environment mainly because it is deceptively so. The stretch of tunnel where the first 'ghost photo' was taken, for example, consists of a repetitive series of arches separated by about 15 feet of tunnel.

Familiarity can breed contempt, as they say, and a chap I once met called Stan Newman (who would be about 90 now if he were still alive) told me he had broken his leg by falling into a drawbridge counterweight hole in the one stretch of tunnel that is different than all the rest.

This is the drawbridge where it happened (looking back up the tunnel to where the ghost photo was taken) - you have to bear in mind that these tunnels are usually pitch-black and it's easy to miss things unless your torch beam is pointing in the right direction. It must have been a compound fracture because Stan had a very bad limp for the rest of his life.

It's a question of being intensely aware and receptive to everything that's happening, or could happen, in your immediate surroundings and nowhere else. Taking your eye off of the ball for just a moment can make things very tricky indeed:

Just prior to taking the second ghost photo (also see the animated gif) I had looked up and thought, "Right, I'll take a photo of that embrasure on the right-hand side when I get to it!" whereupon I immediately slipped on a short flight of what had once been perfectly servicable steps.

My left arm banged against the wall in an attempt to keep my balance which caused my torch, in a not unreasonable manner considering the circumstances, to say "Hey, I'm not putting up with this kind of treatment!" and launch itself into space.

On hitting the ground the torch disassembled itself into its component pieces and if I hadn't been wearing the otherwise useless head-torch I would probably still be there now (only joking, you can see the approximate run of the tunnels in this satellite view).

As well as degrees, there are different types of fear. To take this photo of a hole above a tunnel created by the sidewall giving way I first had to position myself as if I was sitting on top of a playground slide and gripping the sides tightly in order to stop myself falling. Then, to actually take the shot, I had to let go of the sides, quickly raise both hands into the air, and press the shutter release before gravity took too great a hold. It wasn't the distance I was going to slip that was the problem, it was the small sharp pieces of flint and chalk sticking out of the collapsed earth that I knew were going to rip into my back that caused a 'slight hesitation'..

Basically, however, two hours in the North Center Bastion gives more head-to-toe excitement and exhilaration than a year spent playing video games, disco dancing, or a lifetime watching soaps. Fear just goes with the territory :)

After I published the ghost photos on the Internet, a paranormal group wanted to come to Dover and stay overnight. Half of them found then found better things to do once they saw photos of the approaches to the tunnel systems and the other half have not yet decided on a date (they live some distance away, apparently). It will be very interesting should their trip ever get off of the ground!

andydover on June 23, 2008

Hi John, So pleased to find this page purely by chance - I googled myself. It was nice to learn that you still remember the Saturday mornings we spent on the Shepperton and Hampton curtesy of my (step)father. Unfortunately he was killed in an accident on another train ferry, the Anderida, in 1974.

John Latter on June 23, 2008

andydover, said:

Hi John, So pleased to find this page purely by chance - I googled myself. It was nice to learn that you still remember the Saturday mornings we spent on the Shepperton and Hampton curtesy of my (step)father. Unfortunately he was killed in an accident on another train ferry, the Anderida, in 1974.

I must admit that 'andydover' threw me a bit, John, but yes, I certainly do remember those Saturday mornings - along with visiting your home (105 Folkestone Road?) where you had quite an amazing model train layout in the loft (unless, of course, memory's playing me tricks!).

Sorry to hear about the tragic accident involving your father.

John

[The original page/photo andydover is referring to is 67C Recruit Squadron, Army Apprentices College, Harrogate (2)]

John Latter on April 21, 2009

I was living in Robsons Yard, Dover, when the above photo was taken - and unfortunately, I'm still there!

John Latter / Jorolat

Images of Dover

tessg907 on April 29, 2009

how did u get there????

John Latter on April 29, 2009

tessg907 said:

how did u get there????

This one is quite easy to get to, Tess. I'm not actually in a tunnel here, but in the 'Main Magazine' marked "M" in the satellite view (ie the Magazine is on top of the island itself.

Once you're in the tunnels, all you have to do is go across one of the drawbridges, either D1 or D2.

John Latter on November 12, 2010

The English Heritage Pastscape entry for the North Centre Bastion and Detached Bastion reads (1):

TR 3110 4083 North Centre and Detached Bastions

North Centre Bastion was begun in 1804 during the Napoleonic Wars, as part of the Western Heights fortress in Dover. It remained unfinished at the end of the war in 1815 but was completed to a revised design between 1859 and 1867; this resulted in two linked bastions known as North Centre Bastion and Detached Bastion (2).

Both were surveyed and researched by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England between 1998 and 2001 as part of the Dover Western Heights Survey Project (event UID 1316220 and monument UID 467989). See the archive report and plans for full details: Pattison P The Western Heights, Dover, Kent; Report no 5 North Centre and Detached Bastions.

An English Heritage site and Scheduled Monument; the Detached Baastion is also known as "Dead Man's Island".

Photos of the Detached Bastion are included under the North Centre Bastion tag.

(1) Pastscape: North Centre Bastion

(2) The bastions are linked by the South Caponier (see South Caponier interior; South Caponier exterior).

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on April 18, 2007
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX Optio 33LF
    • Taken on 2007/04/18 11:31:07
    • Exposure: 0.017s (1/60)
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    • F/Stop: f/2.600
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
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