Dover Castle Tunnels

Saturday, 29 August 2009 / Projects

MBA’s conservation arm Stow & Beale Conservation Architects are carrying out a feasibility study for English Heritage at the Dover ‘Secret Wartime Tunnels’, a system of tunnels, now over 1km long, originally cut into the chalk cliffs in 1793, brick lined in 1810, and extended during the second world war to form a combined HQ for admiralty, army and air-force, complete with an underground field-hospital.

The tunnels were used for planning and directing ‘Operation Dynamo’ – the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk in 1941 – and later for the invasion of Europe in 1944. Such was secrecy, those working in the tunnels did not know of their extent, access was allowed on a need-to-be-there room-by-room basis.

During the Cold War, the tunnels were upgraded and re-used as a Regional Centre of Government, before being declassified and handed to English Heritage in 1995. They are now a major visitor attraction at Dover Castle, and are to be represented as part of a regeneration programme aimed to make seaside towns thrive through improvements to heritage and tourism.