The Great Lines

Posted on April 16, 2022 / 5
Listing Type : Defence Line
Location : England

The Great Lines or Chatham Lines is a line of defence roughly two miles long that protected the Chatham Dockyard from land attack.  Work started on the bastion trace in 1756 to designs of Captain John Desmaretz.  The lines had a redoubt at each end, Amherst Redoubt in the South and Townsend Redoubt in the North.  Amherst Redoubt evolved into Fort Amherst with enhancements made between 1805-12.  At the same time the Lines were extended Eastwards to St Mary’s Creek and this is known as Chatham Lower Lines.  A Barrier Ditch was built below Fort Amherst to protect the road entrance into the Dockyard.

The Great Lines of Chatham became redundant with the building of the Royal Commission Land Forts between 1870 and 1890.  This included:

  • Fort Bridgewood
  • Fort Luton
  • Fort Borstal
  • Fort Horsted
  • Fort Darland

During World War 2, 12-pdrs QF guns and Spigot Mortar Emplacements were built along the Great Lines to bolster the defence line.  The dry moat was used as an anti-tank ditch.  Underground command and control centres were built, some with entrance in the main ditch.

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