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 National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The work started on site in Fort Amherst on 1 October 2018 and the final element of the works down at Chatham Waterfront (Riverside) were substantially completed in February 2020.

The Riverside area by the Library is still closed to allow the grass to establish. We hope to open up this area later this summer. We had proposed a community launch as part of the opening but this is currently on hold due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

The project has transformed areas of historic value including the Barrier Ditch in Chatham, a critical part of Chatham’s historic defences and Spur Battery within Fort Amherst which was once used for troop encampments, siege warfare and military punishment.

The project involved:

  • the demolition of Riverside One, which sat in the historic Barrier Ditch 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 previously closed areas of the fort making them available for public access
  • the transformation of Spur Battery into an amphitheatre with seating for outdoor performance

Down at Riverside the project unearthed archaeology previously thought to be destroyed:

  • 3 brick chambers (casemates) that would have been gun positions to defend the river
  • the buried remains of the Barrier Ditch wall itself
  • military lithographic print blocks

The project was successful in securing a grant increase from National Lottery Heritage Fund to incorporate the casemate finds into the completed works so that the public can engage with this important history of the area.

Throughout the project there have been opportunities to learn about Chatham’s heritage, including the history behind Gun Wharf which was the original location of the Tudor dockyard.

We ran a successful programme of activities to engage with the project with events such as:

  • community archaeology
  • cataloguing of the large military collection of Fort Amherst
  • performances in the amphitheatre
  • school education programmes

Completed Spur Battery Amphitheatre within Fort Amherst

Spur battery amphitheatre within fort amherst

Spur Battery Amphitheatre within Fort Amherst

Spur battery amphitheatre

Spur battery amphitheatre

Barrier road and pedestrian entrance into fort amherst

Barrier Road and pedestrian entrance into Fort Amherst

Barrier ditch and casemates at chatham riverside before topsoiling

 

Barrier ditch and casemates at Chatham Riverside before topsoiling

 

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