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Archcliffe Fort

Archcliffe Fort stands on a headland overlooking the harbour, known  as Archcliffe Point. In 1370 a watchtower, surrounded by a chalk bank  and ditch was built on the site of the present Archcliffe Fort. This  fortification remained substantially unchanged until 1539 when Henry  VIII ordered that a substantial ‘bulwark’ be constructed. Later when  the Spanish Armada threatened the south coast, this fort had to be  strengthened. Again, in the reign of James I, it became necessary to spend more  money on the repair of the fort. This was in 1624 during the war in  the Netherlands, when an army of 12,000 men was brought to Dover  and embarked for Holland. After the restoration of the Monarchy in  1660, the fort was fully manned with a captain, a lieutenant, an  ensign, a sergeant, two corporals, sixty soldiers, one drummer, one  gunner and two matrosses (assistant gunners). As soon as it became  evident Charles II was safely established on the throne, an order was  issued in June 1661 reducing the manning levels at the fort to a  captain, lieutenant and four gunners. In the 1750s work was carried out on the fort, building two new guard  houses, raising a parapet and constructing new barracks. In 1780,  with war against France raging, £1,200 was spent bringing the fort up  to date. During the Napoleonic Wars additional money was spent on  the fort, despite it being considered obsolete. The military considered  the expense worthwhile until the developments on the Western  Heights became operational.   On 7 February 1844 the South Eastern Railway opened its line to  Dover from Folkestone. The company’s Town Station was reached by  means of two short tunnels under the south west corner of the fort. A report in 1847 stated that the fort was armed with six 32 pounder  guns mounted on traversing platforms. Its masonry walls were in  good order having the appearance of being recently restored. An  additional 32 pounder gun was mounted so as to fire over the  rampart, and was used for general artillery practice. In 1872 the fort  was re-armed with five new 10 inch guns and a 7 inch gun on a  Moncrieff disappearing carriage. The advantage of this type of  carriage was that the gun was lowered below the parapet for  reloading, protecting the gunners from enemy fire.   The fort was not upgraded during the First World War other than the  mounting of some small calibre, quick firing guns to prevent landing  parties taking advantage of the shelter of the cliff face. In the early  1920s the railway’s demand for more tracks resulted in parliamentary  permission being given for the removal of the southern half of the  fort.  The the railway tunnels were removed and the cliff was cut  back. Little used during the Second World War, by 1956 the Ministry of  Defence no longer considered it a military installation. In 1979 it was  transferred to the hands of the Department of the Environment and  scheduled as and Ancient Monument. During the construction of the  new A20, in the 1990s, part of the entrance and the dry moat had to  be destroyed. In 1995 work started to convert the fort for use by the  Emmaus Community, a group working to help homeless people by  providing accommodation and work for them. The fort now provides  accommodation and workshops, where old furniture is recycled and  sold in the shop on the premises.  
A map of the fort in 1884.  The tunnels from the Town Station can be seen going under the southern corner. The gateway of the fort today. The western ditch of the fort today. 7 inch rifled muzzle loaded gun on a Moncrieff disappearing carriage in the raised (firing) position.