Home Kent News Inside the secret White Cliffs tunnels you can only reach by rope...

Inside the secret White Cliffs tunnels you can only reach by rope climb

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Original article from Kent Live

Halfway up the face of one our famous White Cliffs, a peculiar box-like shape sticks out.

Often you will see visitors to St Margaret's Bay looking up to it from the beach, or from the nearby Coastguard pub garden, wondering what on earth it is.

Like so many strange structures in this area, it goes back to the Second World War.

READ MORE: We went to Dover's so-called seediest spot

Convinced the Germans would try to land on Kent's beaches, British forces built concrete faced observation and machine gun posts into the cliffs.

This particular one is around 10 metres above the beach, although the height varies as shingle moves around during the year.

While many people will be aware of this explanation, a smaller number will have seen first hand what's behind the gun post.

Because getting up to it is pretty dangerous.

A rope has been left dangling down to the beach, meaning a treacherous climb over steep rocks.

Plus there's the tide, which is known to come in rapidly in St Margaret's Bay.

It could leave anyone brave or foolish enough to go up there cut off for hours.

Helpfully though, when we visited last week, a local teenager was already halfway up the cliff face.

From the top, they shouted down they would be more than happy to take photos for the good readers of MyDover.

Joseph after the treacherous climb to the gun point

And we should all thank 14-year-old Joseph, and his parents who subsequently provided permission, because what is inside the cliff is rather interesting – a small tunnel complex.

A pair of parallel tunnels run behind the face.

Inside the tunnel complex in the White Cliffs

To the north they lead down to the original entrance point at the end of the beach esplanade, now bricked up and close to a type 24 pillbox, another part of the beach defensive network.

Running south they end in a series of steps up to another opening overlooking the Channel.

A brick column is in the middle, and according to those with knowledge it was originally a small chamber which has partly fallen into the sea.

Inside the tunnel complex

Part of the tunnel complex is believed to go back to the mid-19th century, but the current structure dates from the early part of the Second World War.

Parts of the tunnel are believed to go back to the 19th century

Sections of the tunnel are unlined, particularly the first length up from the original entrance, while other sections have either a brick wall facing or irregularly spaced brick piers and vaulted corrugated steel roofs above.

The St Margaret's Bay cliff tunnels

Nearer the cliff face erosion has taken its toll and most of the machine gun post’s original 60cm thick reinforced concrete front wall and brick facing have now fallen away.

Experts say the post was initially manned by the 70th Battalion The Buffs until November 1940 when the 5th Battalion Royal Marines Commandos took over from them.

Their local headquarters was in the nearby village at Curfew House on Kingsdown Road, now the Royal British Legion local headquarters and a private house.

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Apparently, to keep themselves amused, they made practice attacks on local regiments.

We recently reported how on the cliffs in Dover, a set of windows halfway up had a special role in the Second World War too.

Both are reminders of how crucial our area was to one of the most important conflicts in human history.

For the gun post in St Margaret's, it's of how lucky we are that it never had to be used.

Original Article