Fort Amherst - Chatham

 

Fort Amherst was one of many Napoleonic defences built in the Medway area, that were never tested to their capability as the feared invasion never came. It was built to protect the dockyard nearby and was begun in 1755 on the surface as part of The Cumberland Lines. Many of the surface features are part of the site and open during the day to the public. The tunnels, which are known to extend some 750m into the hillside were begun in 1770 and formed the basis of what was to be known as Fort Amherst. In this regard it can be said to be pre-Napoleonic. The vast tunnels were dug through the chalk by hand and the pick marks can be seen all through the complex as one marvels at the effort exerted in name of defence. These were in places reinforced by brickwork which in places displays very irregular design features. Whilst not called into action in its intended role it, together with other nearby fortifications, was subjected to yearly siege exercises and would have witness frenetic activity and artillery firing. The original gates were demolished and drawbridges dismantled in the 1870’s to increase traffic flow although one survives in the grounds of the fort. The tunnels were further extended during the First World War to house supplies and men going to France and were later used as the Naval Radio Station. Anti- Aircraft guns, mortars and defences were mounted during the Second World War and manned by the local Home Guard. The tunnels were taken over by the Civil Defence and only relinquished in the mid 1950’s. It is now owned by a charitable trust and is open to the public and continued restoration takes place.

Welcome to Fort Amherst Online : Britain's Premiere Napoleonic Fortress


Aim:
To investigate reported paranormal activity within the building, using scientific and spiritual methods.

Background:

The fort runs its own ghost tours and Halloween nights. The entire site has been subject to reports of paranormal activity from sensations and feelings through to full sightings of persons within the tunnels and buildings when only the witnesses are present. Many mediums have visited the site and given information to the staff regarding those spirits that are present here. Ask any of the staff and they will recount many stories of their own experiences and this prompted Ghost Connections to mount an investigation at the fort using its usual methods in order to establish what if any unexplained events occur here.


Apparatus:
Cameras
Nikon Coolpix 3100
Fuji Finepix 4900
Fuji Finepix S550

Camcorder
Sony DCR- HC30E
Samsung VP-D351 with night vision (x2)
Sony DCR-HC19

EVP
Olympus DM 2O

OTHER
Data Logger EL-USB2
IR Emitter Sony HVL-IRM (x2)
Tripods
Torches
Tapes (VHS/MiniDV)


Team:

Kim
Ian
Paddy
Dave

Method:

The team arrived on site and after a conversation with the John and his staff went into the tunnels to set up the equipment. The lower gun floor was used as ‘base camp’ and the staff lit the open log fire for us. We considered that any noises made by the fire would be recognisable and distinguished from any other. The sound of crackles and falling logs would be considered at all stages during the investigation. The tunnels consist of a 750m winding passage into the hillside. An ARP outpost and radio centre is in a U shaped tunnel leading off of the main passage by the entrance. Wooden doors are present at the two entrances to this. Further up the passage at its end is the Lower Gun Floor with various side defences. Solid brick stairs lead to the Upper Gun Floor which has a wooden floor. Further solid brick stairs and passages lead up from here to a door onto the surface. These stairs curl around a shaft which rises from the Lower Gun Floor to the surface. This would cause sound to travel up and down to various levels if created within the complex at this end. Both Lower and Upper gun floors have large wooden doors at the bottom and top of the linking stairs which were kept open during the night. These have no degree of movement on their own. Both floors here have heavy wooden doors opening out onto the Barrier Ditch which would originally have housed cannon for defence purposes. These remained shut and bolted throughout the investigation and were never heard to make any sound. Due to its underground situation there is very little natural noise associated with building movement, shrinkage or expansion and very little scope for natural drafts.

CCTV was set up in the telephone room in the ARP area and also on the upper gun floor. The results of this have yet to be viewed. All events would be recorded on video cam by as many cameras as possible and also by voice recorder.

The team undertook their first vigil and séance in the plotting room of the ARP area. This is between the telephone room and the main tunnel. It has an open door to the telephone room. The door to the main tunnel was secured shut with detachable wire and the other door (away from out view) was secured with a stick. Neither would be opened without effort and the team knowing about it. There are external doors to the complex in the main tunnel between these mentioned doors. Any staff attending would clearly be heard. On one occasion this did occur and their voices and footsteps were clearly heard along with the outer door opening and closing. This was discounted from anything reported by the team. The area the team were in had wooden grid marked boards stood against the wall on independent stands.

During the course of the session the team heard numerous faint taps in the area of the free standing boards as a result of encouragement given for spirit evidence to be given. This was not always on cue but nonetheless occurred more than once during the session.

During this session two of the staff walked past in the main tunnel. Their voices and movements could be heard clearly by the team and are recorded. Any sounds at this time have been discounted.

Dave saw a dark figure move towards the entrance door along a 5’ length of wall and then vanish. Footfalls were then heard by the team outside the door. No persons were found to be present. These were not picked up by audio or visual recordings. No other phenomena were recorded. Dave also felt something pressing into or taking hold of his hand. Faint noises where heard by the team and the source was not traced.

The team re-convened and again a similar noise was heard. This too appeared to come from downstairs. Further to this the team heard voices as in a mumbled conversation and this appeared to over talk Ian as he asked for further proof. Towards the end of the session a sound of something landing near to Kim and Paddy was distinctly heard as if something had been thrown at the team. An investigation of the area revealed the previously mentioned mud but no loose objects.

All of these were captured on video footage and audio and the video footage can be viewed at Ghost Connections -> Fort Amherst vids by logging into the forum.

Based upon the sounds from downstairs the team decide to relocate to the Lower Gun Floor in an effort to establish the cause of the noises heard. During this time a few noises were heard coming from the area of the Upper Gun Floor but nothing occurred downstairs. A short break followed this session.

Following the break the team went to the stairs leading from the Upper Gun Floor to the surface door mentioned previously. The team positioned themselves on some steps next to an opening overlooking the Upper Gun Floor where figures have previously been seen. Whilst taking the obligatory photographs by Ian and Kim, Dave was setting up the video cam at the end of the short passage. Ian took a series of pictures, four of which were within a one minute time frame. The first shows Dave setting up the video, the second shows only the video I/R light as the flash failed to fire, the fourth again shows a shape image of Dave. The third image, meanwhile, shows a dark ‘mass’ just in front of Ian and Kim. The sides of the passage and roof are visible illuminated by the flash however the ‘darkness’ appears in a figure type shape and completely obscures Dave although the video I/R can be seen clearly through it and the tripod is just visible below. The images are reproduced here –

 

 

 

Pic 3 - Flash Fired
Photograph 1 Taken with Flash
Photograph 2 Flash Failed

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photograph 4 Flash Fired
Photograph 3 Flash Fired

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pic 4  - Flash Fired

 

 

 

 

 

 

Further research was under taken immediately to attempt to re-create this effect to no avail. Research into possible causes is ongoing.

The team continued with a vigil in this area. Dave commented on his right leg being cold. This is unexplained as any draughts through the shaft or passage would have passed his left leg first by the way he was sitting. Ian comments on his hair being moved in his head as if he is being touched by something or someone.

Dave continues to call for spirit as a loud noise is heard somewhere downstairs again. Following another request a series of taps is heard on the audio footage but not by the team at the time. It is likened to a ‘rat-a-tat-tat’ as if knocking on a door and is thought to have been very close to the microphones of Kim and Dave’s recorders as they were sat next to each other. Without hearing this Dave says’ They don’t do they?’ indicating that paranormal noises are not heard upon request and another noise is instantly heard on the audio footage but not by the team. These will be reproduced on the site at a later date.

Upper Gun Floor

The team re-locate following another break to the Upper Gun Floor again but this time sits in darkness one member to each corner of the room. Dave sits with his back to the open heavy door to the stairs down to the Lower Gun Floor. A number of noises are heard but by far the loudest and most relevant is the sound of a heavy bang on the door behind Dave. This is caught on the video and audio footage and is available to be viewed at Ghost Connections -> Fort Amherst vids by joining the forum.

After some time here the team discuss the nights events at the fireside and then pack up all equipment and leave. The team spent a total of 10 hours investigating this site.

 

 

 

 


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Results
CCTV has yet to be viewed.

Video Camera Footage shows nothing of interest although corroborates the sounds heard by the team particularly those on the Upper and Lower Gun Floors. It is reproduced on the links outlined in the text.

Voice Recordings reveal no EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) but do corroborate the noises heard by the team and those within the staircase that are mentioned above which were not heard by the team.

Photographic stills produced no visible phenomena although those reproduced here are unable to currently be explained.

Conclusion
Fort Amherst has a history of recent reports of phenomena of all kinds being reported. During Ghost Connections investigation the team concentrated on those areas which were open to the team and had previously been subject to reports.

Any noises are amplified by the construction of the site although it being below ground rules out the possibility of persons nearby, building movement and diminishes the likelihood of natural draughts. Due to the layout it is not always possible to accurately locate the source of a noise if outside the immediate area being investigated. To this point some of the noises heard that were not on the level being investigated at the time cannot be accounted for although any likely causes were investigated and ruled out with the possible exception of the surface door. The sounds of the object landing near Kim and Paddy cannot be explained as no cause or loose object could be found. The noise of the loud bang on the door next to Dave, again, cannot be explained as no object was found near it and no other persons were present.
Some noises heard coming from the chimneys may have been falling debris caused by birds disturbed by dawn approaching at that hour.

Voices heard by the team cannot be accounted for as apart from one visit by staff during an investigation and one during a break (all accounted for) no other persons were present in the tunnels during the investigation.

The noises heard on the audio recordings cannot be accounted for as they were not witnessed at the time. Their cause remains unexplained as does their timing.

The photograph taken by Ian is being analysed further in an attempt to establish a cause for this type of image to be produced. This may or may not be Ghost Connections first unexplainable photograph of a human form!

All in all a very interesting night, with many events which cannot currently be explained and are worthy of further research.
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There was an amount of information forthcoming of a clairvoyant/psychic kind, but this cannot be validated. As Ghost Connections conducts scientifically based investigations we do not publish such observations, however, this information is held on a separate database and may prove interesting when compared to other peoples experiences. Should you wish to discuss this information please email us

Ghost Connections would wish to return to Fort Amherst and further their investigations into the tunnels and other sites in the future.

  Thanks
 

Thanks to – John Loudwell and his team and for providing us with hot beverages during the night and a nice warm log fire.

Historical notes taken from ‘The Napoleonic Defences of Rochester and Chatham’ by K.R. Gulvin and published by the Medway Military Research Group (available from Fort Amherst)


 

2004/2006 Ghost Connections UK