Fort Bridgewoods. (Borstal/Rochester)

This fort was built in the late 19th century as one of the forts that defended the landward aproach to Chatham Dockyard.
It protected the approach from Maidstone and the flank of Fort Borstal.

The fort was polygonal in shape and had a deep dry ditch around it.
The entrance was via a roller bridge and either side of the entrance gate were machine gun loops. (which was the first appearance of this feature at Chatham)
Also above the entrance was a crown and VR with the date 1884,which may be the date work continued on the fort after it stopped for a while.

The fort was first started in about 1879 by convict labour,but due to lack of money and enthusiasm for building the forts,work stopped and it wasn't until 1892 that fort Bridgewoods was completed.

The ditch around the fort was partly constructed with flint rather than the usual concrete.
It was originally to have three Counterscarp galleries defending the ditch but only two were built,leaving the rear area of the forts ditch undefended.
One of the Counterscarp galleries has a sally port in giving access to the ditch,during the 1907 Siege Operations,which this fort took part in,this gallery was extensively damaged.

Inside the fort to the left of the entrance were accomodation Casemates for the garrison.
Off these Casemates were short tunnels which led to the Magazines and Reservoirs.

Expanse Magazines and Gun Emplacements were built but no fixed Gun Emplacements was provided.
An external earthen wing Battery was also built in the later 19th century to give extra mobile fire power.

Pror to WWII the fort became "Y" Station,gathering signals inteligence for the war office and during the war activities were greatly increased and a hutted encampment was built in the woods adjacent to the fort,and also other buildings were built inside the fort.
The fort dissapeared from local maps right up until the 1970's.
Later in the war the station moved and the fort was occupied by 33 Kent Batalion (Shorts Brothers) Home Guard who manned a number of light AA guns.

In 1953 a large fallout proof Bunker was built in the fort,it had 2 floors and was partly below ground.
It was for an Anti Aircraft Operations Room (AAOR) for the Thames and Medway South fixed AA guns sites.
It remained operational untill 1957.
the AAOR would of co-ordinated all AA activity from Dartford to Sittingbourne and the Thames Estuary.

In 1960 the fort and bunker were handed over to the Home Office who made it into a Sub Regional Control Centre for the administration of South East London after a Nuclear attack.
Fort Bridgewoods was known as SRC 5.2 .
This lasted untill 1967 when the system was rationalised.

The fort was then sold to a builder and in the late 1970's the ditch was partly filled in.
In 1982 a serious fire gutted the AAOR.
Then in 1988 despite the fort being listed as a building of historic interest it was completely demolished and a Post Office parcels depot was built on the site.

Today there "May" be remains of the wing Battery left and the site of the hutted encampment can be traced nearby.

Fort Bridgewoods plan curtesy of David Moore