Command of the Heights

Command of the Heights is a joint project between Medway Council and Fort Amherst Heritage Trust and has been funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund.

The project will transform areas of historic value including the Barrier Ditch in Chatham, a critical part of Chatham’s defences. This will also transform Spur Battery which was once used for troop encampments, siege warfare training and military punishment.

This project will involve:

  • the demolition of Riverside One which sits in the historic Barrier Ditch in Chatham to restore the relationship to the river and the dockyard that the fort was built to protect
  • the creation of a new pedestrian entrance to Fort Amherst from Chatham town centre via Barrier Road
  • the restoration of Spur Battery
  • transforming Spur Battery into an amphitheatre with seating for outdoor performances

Project progress

The work started within Fort Amherst on 1 October 2018. On 19 September 2019 the completion of the amphitheatre and the works in Barrier Road were celebrated with a performance by Icon Theatre.

Fort works are now complete and have been handed back to Fort Amherst. The public can now see the finished works and enjoy the previously closed areas.

On 2 January 2019 works began at Chatham Waterfront to expose the Barrier Ditch. Construction works are expected to be completed in January 2020 with the Barrier Ditch opening to the public in Spring 2020 once the grass areas have had time to grow after seeding.

Works down at the waterfront unearthed archaeology thought to have been previously destroyed. This is in the form of 3 brick chambers (casemates) that would have been gun positions to defend the river, and the buried remains of the barrier ditch wall itself. 

We have recently been successful in securing a grant increase from Heritage Fund to incorporate these features into the completed works. This will enable the public to engage with the important history of the area.

Barrier ditch at Riverside 1

Reinterpretation of Barrier Ditch layout at Riverside One

Spur battery - creation of amphitheatre

Spur Battery: Amphitheatre mock up

Throughout the project there will be many chances to learn about Chatham’s heritage, including the history behind Gun Wharf which was the original location of the Tudor Dockyard.

We will run a programme of activities to encourage you to get involved in events such as:

  • community archaeology
  • cataloguing of the large artillery collection
  • performances in the amphitheatre
  • school education programmes

For more information about the Command of the Heights project please email yournew@medway.gov.uk.