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HISTORY OF FORT HALSTEAD
A Talk by DAVE PERRY

 

 

Eighty plus members were it this talk which made it one of the most successful of the year. Dave Perry is an engaging speaker who kept the audience's attention with a mixture of historical fact and personal experiences.

The origins of the fort can be traced back to the sixteenth century but its zenith as a real fort was reached in the nineteenth century when Palmerston enlarged it to be the principal fort in the inner ring round London in case the French invaded and succeeded in breaching the coastal defences.

Thankfully it was never needed for this purpose !
During the two world wars it was gradually enlarged until it employed 4,000 people, and was the largest employer in the Sevenoaks area.


The Fort has always been associated with the development of explosives of various sorts but has also been employed amongst other uses as an interrogation centre during World War 2.. Rockets have been developed there since the 1930's.

In the early post war years Dr Penny and his team worked there on the development of the atomic bomb. Information of much of the research carried out there is still not on the public domain.


There are still 1,000 people employed at the Fort and much of the work is still shrouded in secret. It is so secret in fact that it does not appear on ordinance survey maps and does not appear on sat-nav's either.

Recently a contingent of the SAS stopped in Otford to ask where the Fort was and how to get there ! During World War 2 photographic maps showed the Luftwaffe where the railway tunnel was as a possible target...but did not mention the Fort.

A secret well kept. It was a most interesting talk and Dave is to be congratulated on the research and effort he must have put in to make such a fascinating evening.

 

Shoreham And District
Historical Society
Affiliated to
The Shoreham Society
The Kent History Federation and
The Kent Archaeological Society

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Last Updated

July 13, 2014

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Shoreham And District Historical Society