Site Records


SiteName: Fortress Alderney

 

Sub Brit site visit February 2002

[Source: Nick Catford]



Alderney is the most northerly of the Channel Islands, 3.5 miles X 1.5 miles and just 8 miles from the French coast. Unlike it's larger neighbours it's population is small and with few tourist attractions it's never crowded. The Island has been fortified since Roman times culminating in a network of forts and batteries constructed in the mid 19th Century to repel a possible French invasion. During WW2 the fortifications were strengthened still further following the occupation of the Channel Islands

in the summer of 1940 with an extension to Hitler's Atlantic Wall creating the impregnable 'Fortress Alderney'. New fortifications included coastal batteries, anti-aircraft batteries and infantry strongpoints and tunnels scattered across the island.

Photo:Fire Control Tower overlooking Mannez Quarry
Photo by Nick Catford

The island was visited by members of Subterranea Britannica in February 2002. Details of some of the sites visited, mainly German fortifications, are listed here. Unlike Jersey and Guernsey, the island doesn't yet attract vast numbers of holiday visitors and most of the fortifications are unaltered and unspoilt and generally open and accessible. The Alderney Tourist Office is now keen to promote the islands military heritage with a wide diversity of sites within a small area. The island is ringed by Victorian forts, some derelict and ruined while others have been restored and brought back to use. One of them, Fort Clonque, is owned by the Landmark Trust and has been sympathetically restored for residential holiday use, retaining many of its original features. Off season the weekly rates are surprisingly low and it provided an ideal base for our visit to the island. German fortifications are scattered all over the island and you are never more than half a mile from an interesting site.

Many of the fortifications have an underground element, perhaps the most impressive being the four major tunnel systems constructed by the Germans, those under Essex Hill and at Mannez Quarry are relatively safe to enter while the two tunnels at Water Lane west of the capital St. Anne are in a more dangerous condition with roof collapses and deep mud and these should only be entered by those with experience in underground exploration.

For further details of extant military sites on Alderney covering all periods see 'Fortifications of Alderney' by Colin Partridge & Trevor Davenport ISBN 0 95117156 0 7

[Source: Nick Catford]

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