NOTE: Beyond the Point never gained access into the former military site and we discourage trespassing on any MOD land.
After 1667, gunpowder was stored in Upnor Castle, close to Chattenden Barracks. Over the next fifty years a series of buildings were built along the riverside designed for filling and storing explosive shells, naval mines and torpedoes – all for use in military ships and forts along the Meadway. When it was realised that there was no room for further expansion of the storage facilities at Upnor, a nearby site inland at Chattenden was purchased, and in 1875 five magazines were built and barracks to accommodate the eight officers and 120 guards.
From 1899 the storage facility was expanded with the development of the nearby Lodge Hill site, which provided space for a further dozen small magazines for storing cordite and other highly-explosive materials. For safety the structures were set apart from one another with dense woodland planted in-between.
Then & Now – 2003 and 2015
As early as 1912 it was realised that both the Lodge Hill and Chattenden Magazines were vulnerable to air attack. Despite this, they both continued to be used for ammunition storage through both World Wars, until 1961, when the site was used as barracks and a training facility for the Royal School of Military Engineering. The Joint Service Bomb Disposal School moved there in 1966.
Chattenden and Lodge Hill Training Areas continued to be used into the 21st century, preparing personnel for active service in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2007 the MOD designated the military sites as a brownfield area for redevelopment. As part of a Government initiative to sell of 30% of MOD land, to raise £1 billion, Chattenden Barracks along with 11 other sites were put up for sale. A plan had been worked up for 5000 houses to be built on the site although concerns about nature halted these plans. Lodge Hill is home to 85 singing male nightingales, which is a significant amount of the entire UK population which stands at 6000. Natural England declared this a Site of Special Scientific Interest and in 2016 the MOD put the Lodge Hill and Chattenden site up for sale.
The photo to the right by Dave Reid, shows a derelict F-4 Phantom II jet. Beginning operation in 1959, it set 15 world records for in-flight performance, including absolute speed and altitude records.
Then & Now – 1940 and 2015
These houses date back as early as 1940, as seen in the aerial imagery above.
On the forum ’28 Days Later’ user snappy quotes:
I have trained there, I searched these buildings with an Arms and Explosives Search dog, the houses were set up with booby traps. Instead of an explosion a buzzer went off. They were pretty empty 7 years ago, so wouldn’t envisage there being much to see now.
Perimeter and Main Entrance
Underground Bunker & Site Wall
Following around the back of the houses, I found a couple of bunkers hidden underground; small and not in the best condition. Walking further into the woods I came across a huge wall which had crumbled down over time. It looks like this was possibly the perimeter wall, or sectioning off a higher security section. Not much was the other side, dense trees and a metal fence. As we stated earlier, the dense woodland was specifically required here in the event of the highlight explosive material going off.