Yesterday I shared pictures from the Stepping Stone walk at Box Hill and ended that post just as I got to the Old Fort, saving the pictures of it for today. The Fort was built in the late 1800s during a crisis period in British history. It was part of the London Defence Scheme, which was built as a last ditch attempt to save the capital of the empire.
And this was my first view:
it looked intriguing and I was soon exploring further.
It was built during a time of great changes, when ships were starting to be made from steel and powered by steam. There were also improvements to weapons, with large artillery guns becoming more accurate and more destructive and infantry rifles quicker to reload. Britain hadn't kept pace building modern warships and its forces were spread across the whole empire, leaving London vulnerable.
If London fell, the whole empire was likely to follow so therefore it needed to be protected while the naval forces were bolstered. So this and the twelve others built were literally a last ditch defence protecting London from attacks arriving from the south and the east. Known as the London Defence Scheme, this series of defences were seventy two miles long. It was never used in battle though.
The design of each of the thirteen Defence Positions varied; they were never elaborate with just a magazine and storehouses for the mobilisation of troops. The doors and windows of the fort at Box Hill were made of thick cannon proof steel, fitted with rifle loops to defend the fort from an enemy at close quarters.
The magazine rooms were protected from shelling by the earthen roof and contained ammunition for infantry rifles and artillery guns. Those chimneys were used as ventilation and were important to keep the gunpowder in good condition.
Today though, as you can see it's derelict and serves as a reminder of time gone by and is no doubt used well by the local wildlife population. While I was there a small group of children thought it was a great place to run around and play hide and seek. And they were right, It was large enough that they could run around and not see each other, but small enough that they could call out and easily confuse themselves. It looked like fun and the sort of game that could easily keep you occupied for quite a while, and one I'm sure I played when I was much younger!
As you can see it also provided a great photo opportunity for me. It was great to walk around, take some pictures and learn a bit about the Old Fort and its part in history.