Someone alerted the media

Our lovely uncovered sound mirrors in Fan Hole have recently received a lot of attention from the press and even a visit from ITV Meridian news. The articles and broadcast story are linked below:

http://www.kentonline.co.uk/dover/news/sound-mirrors-a-significant-discovery-25919/

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/archaeology/sound-mirrors–the-earliest-form-of-air-raid-warning–unearthed-on-south-coast-9821837.html

http://www.itv.com/news/meridian/update/2014-10-29/sound-mirrors-unearthed-on-dovers-white-cliffs/

Sound mirrors listen again

Towering above those brave enough to visit are the Fan Hole sound mirrors, now proudly once again part of the White Cliffs of Dover to be seen by future generations thanks to our wonderful contractors, keen volunteers and YOU.

The full diary report of an incredible effort within just 4 weeks will be coming very soon along with timelapse video and more photos.

Please note that the sound mirrors are still a working building site and require further works to stabilise their future with the land around them. Until further notice, it is recommended should you wish to visit the mirrors while volunteers, contractors or NT staff are not on site to please keep a distance from the mirror structures and temporary access/structural aids.

Guided tours around the deep shelter and mirrors prior to official opening to the public in May 2015 are still welcome by appointment. Access to within the deep shelter tunnels is not possible without prior permission and must be taken with a guide.

Please contact us or the the White Cliffs team for more information.

Fan Hole is alive with the sound of progress

Enabling works have been ongoing throughout the week preparing temporary safe access to the sound mirrors in Fan Hole for our contractors.

Conservation work has also been possible during the week to remove the 1970s spoil from the surrounding area of the sound mirrors which will allow the chalk grassland plants to re-colonise the area.

Further rediscoveries connected to the military structures and infrastructure have been found and recorded. This includes the ash path that would have originally interconnected the sound mirrors and adjacent entrances to the surface entrance of the deep shelter as well as the deep shelter plant room, engine room and gun battery further behind.

Removal of the spoil covering the sound mirrors will begin next week (weather depending) and will be assisted with manual work by volunteers in order to protect the fragile structures from further damage.

It is anticipated that the full uncovering of the sound mirrors will be complete within 2 weeks and then we will have the fun and interesting job of moving the spoil up the incline of Fan Hole and clearing out the deep shelter for disposal over the winter.

During these works, there is most likely to be times where the public will not temporarily be able to use public footpaths crossing the site and we would appreciate your assistance in helping us keep you safe by following guidance of safety fences, signage and from our volunteer stewards or contractors.

Please contact us or the the White Cliffs team for more information.

Fan Hole sound mirrors press release

The press release for next major milestone of the Fan Bay Deep Shelter project, the uncovering and conservation of the sound mirrors in Fan Hole, has now been published and is available for download below with a Q&A document with further information.

High in the sky

The project team would like to give special thanks to our friends at NuVue Media for visiting the site today with their specialist aerial and video equipment.

Using a professional remote controlled rig, we are gifted with a beautiful collection of aerial shots which are an going to be a positive record of our progress so far as we near the exciting excavation of Fan Hole’s sound mirrors.

Planning approval

We’ve done it! The Fan Bay Deep Shelter project has been awarded planning permission for excavation of the sound mirrors in Fan Hole and opening the deep shelter to the public.

With official opening in May 2015 approaching fast, we will now be concentrating on the immediate start of these works as the season grows cold and wet weather turns against us.

Our project website has recently been updated with information on our next steps for the project including background info on sound mirrors and the two which survive in Fan Hole. Visit the project page at http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/white-cliffs-dover/our-work/projects

During these works, there is most likely to be times where the public will not temporarily be able to use public footpaths crossing the site and we would appreciate your assistance in helping us keep you safe by following guidance of safety fences, signage and from our volunteer stewards or contractors.

Please contact us or the the White Cliffs team for more information.

A hole in the ground

Video clip courtesy of Barry Stewart.

The title of this post may register as a familiar expression for the entrance into Fan Bay Deep Shelter, one which was quite difficult to locate if you weren’t an expert. This arrangement thankfully is more than likely to have protected the structure and contents while other deep shelters in the area have not been so lucky over the years.

With major works being undertaken at the humble hole in the ground this week I am afraid you will no longer associate Fan Bay by the hole you once knew it by.

It was quite a moment when the diggers moved in and removed the (now non-structural) concrete capping and yes, our infamous green door. There was no going back now.

As the day went on, slowly but surely the original entrance set of steps appeared on both sides with the surviving retaining walls revealed sitting on the original concrete landing which is fully intact.

Once the entrance structure had been cleared out and cleaned up, our expert voluntary operator, Tom, began ‘exploring’ the supposed area where Fan Bay’s plant room was believed to exist.

This has largely been kept quiet over the last year in order to protect the site. Initial discussion about the plant room and its location/perimeter began last year with study of official plans and collation of written accounts from past visitors of the area. However we weren’t certain of the room’s size or entrance arrangement which did unexpectedly surprise us as it was fully uncovered.

A little way under the surface revealed concrete workings, however it soon became clear that unfortunately the concrete roof had been destroyed and the room in-filled – quite a feat of engineering in itself with the depth and quality of the material utilised to construct the roof.

Removing the in-fill was a lengthy and delicate task with the bucket but eventually surviving remnants of the original airflow system and then the entrance staircase to the plant room were both revealed.

Further exploration in a muddy corner revealed yet another little room adjoined to the main structure with a strange passageway. We believe this may have contained a small generator as there is evidence of fuel storage / spillage within the area.

On top of a solid concrete block pillar rests the original air handling unit (sadly completely full of spoil and damaged). The main system and electrical installation had long been removed, the remaining duct and varied pieces were crushed by the roof collapse and in-fill and therefore are destined for disposal having been fully documented.

It was not until the second and third days with a hands on approach that all the spoil around and most from inside the air handling unit was completely removed. It will remain as an artefact as part of the story, unfortunately the rest missing in action.

Evidence of the switch/fuse boxes remains on the adjacent wall behind, numbered 1, 2 and 3 in red.

Further discoveries, interesting features and mysteries came throughout the week, but we’ll leave those for another day.

National Trust, the Fan Bay project team and volunteers would like to thank our voluntary contractors Tom and Neil for their personal commitment, professionalism and humour keeping us in good spirits throughout the work and look forward to working with them both again to uncover the sound mirrors in the coming weeks!

So what now?

The team will discuss options for the entrance structure and plant room with structural stability and long term conservation of the site our biggest priority but there is still a lot to do running up to the official opening next May in 2015.

While major works on the entrance structure are now completed, further remedial works and conservation will be ongoing into the new year. During this time, the site will remain open to the elements and is a working deep excavation. Should you wish to visit the area, please remain behind safety fences and do not enter the area without guided supervision of our volunteers or contractors.

Our next adventure of major enabling works to be carried out (planning permission pending) will entail the excavation and conservation of entrances of the deep shelter in Fan Hole. These works will include the uncovering/rediscovery of Dover’s two sound mirrors, covered over in the 1970s as part of the local council’s eyesore clearance programme.

Removing the spoil from the land around/above will also allow the chalk grassland plants to re-colonise the area benefiting the conservation of the white cliffs.

Keep those ear trumpets and stethoscopes close for further updates as always.