North-West Caponier, Detached Bastion, Western Heights, Dover, Kent, UK

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Comments (2)

John Latter on November 12, 2009

Walls upon which sunlight can never fall: the cold grey bricks of Dead Man's Island.

That's not its proper name, of course, nor even the only local one: in more recent years it has also come to be known as "Smokey", and even "The Smokey".

To the Victorians who built it, however, the part of Dead Man's Island shown in the photo had a far les evocative title, that of the North-West Caponier.

Inside the Caponier is a huge two storey chamber, bisected from floor to ceiling by a brick dividing wall containing two high archways to allow wide slate balconies to completely encircle the first floor level.

The proper name for the whole of Dead Man's Island is the Detached Bastion, which is connected to the larger North Centre Bastion by the South Caponier

Whenever I look at this location on a satellite image, I always think of the North-West Caponier as a pimple in relation to the size of the Detached and North Centre Bastion complex as a whole - and they are only one part of the integrated and extensive Napoleonic and Victorian defense system embedded into the Western Heights above the town of Dover, UK.

The entry point used by my friends and I as children was through the embrasure (window) under the wide arch below the ivy on the right-hand side of the photo.

The West Moat Floor, North Centre Bastion, Western Heights photo was taken a few feet to the right of this one.

A three-part video I made of the North Centre Bastion - an English Heritage site - is available on YouTube:

Part 1: Dead Man's Island, North Centre Bastion, Western Heights, Dover UK

Part 2: Dead Man's Island, North Centre Bastion, Western Heights, Dover UK

Part 3:Dead Man's Island, North Centre Bastion, Western Heights, Dover UK

This is an English Heritage site and the English Heritage Pastscape entry for the North Centre Bastion states:

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.

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).

John Latter / Jorolat

Dover Blog: The Psychology of a Small Town

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

John Latter on February 28, 2010

There's now a Youtube video slideshow taken from the moat floor showing the base of the caponier after it had been snowing:

The Moats of Dead Man`s Island in Winter, Western Heights, Dover, UK

The photos in the video were taken on Thursday, February 11th, 2010.

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on November 12, 2009
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D
    • Taken on 2009/11/10 11:03:12
    • Exposure: 0.017s (1/60)
    • Focal Length: 26.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/5.600
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash