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Funding granted for excavation

Thu 23 July 2015, 5:36 pm

Medway Council and the Fort Amherst Heritage Trust have received Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF) to bring forward plans for a 2 million archaeological dig in Chatham.

The £214,00 grant will be put towards the “Command of the Heights project”, which will see the demolition of Riverside One within the walls of the Barrier Ditch by the fort. Council facilities at Riverside One, which include a housing advice service, will be relocated to Kingsley House in Gillingham.

The HLF has allocated the grant as part of a “first-round pass”, meaning the outline proposals have been endorsed. Detailed proposals will be considered once the HLF has made a decision on whether the plans are progressing successfully, at which point the council will apply for full funding.

Running from Riverside One to Fort Amherst, the Barrier Ditch was built during the Seven Years War between 1754 and 1763. It was ‘unscalable’, meaning it was a critical part of the defenses. It is thought that canons and other military items could be found beneath the surface.

Command of the Heights will also see the creation of a new entrance to Fort Amherst from Chatham town centre as well as the restoration of the Spur Battery - the highest part of Chatham within Fort Amherst. This will be transformed into an amphitheatre with seating to allow for outdoor performances. The area will also include public green space at Great Lines Heritage Park. 

Development and planning for the Command of the Heights project will begin in two weeks time (early August). Restoration works are predicted to begin in early 2017, with completion expected in late 2018. 

Medway Council’s portfolio holder for inward investment, strategic regeneration and partnerships, Councillor Rodney Chambers, said: “There is a lot to learn about the area’s military and naval history, and through Command of the Heights we hope to capture the imagination of Medway residents and those from further afield.” 

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