Site Records

SiteName: Reigate Mobilisation Centre (aka Reigate Fort)

Fort Lane

Sub Brit site visit January 1996

[Source: Nick Catford]

Thirteen Mobilisation Centres were built between 1889 and 1903 as part of the London Defence Scheme. These were not planned as forts although some of them would have been armed on mobilisation. Their main function was as a store for guns, small arms ammunition, tools and other equipment required for the batteries and infantry allocated for the defence of the neighbourhood in the event of a foreign invasion. The casemates could also be used as barrack accommodation.

Photo:The magazine
Photo by Nick Catford

In plan, Reigate was an elongated earthwork surrounded by a deep 'V' section ditch and set on the forward slope of the north downs with a clear view to the south. The entrance to the site was at the rear near the eastern end where a causeway crossed the ditch. There were two sets of gates to secure the entrance. The outer ones were after the style of the unclimbable fence with a short section of fence in the same style each side of the gates preventing anyone climbing around them. The inner gates were half inch steel plate on an angle iron frame with shuttered loopholes in each. One gate had a wicket gate set into it. On a shallow scrape on the glacis, originally to have been filled with barbed. wire, there was a palisade fence, 5 feet 6 inches high that surrounded the eastern half of the site. This fence ran across the parade midway between the two casemate blocks leaving the western end unprotected.

Artists impression of Reigate Mobilisation Centre
Drawn by Roger Gill of Palmerston Forts Society

Two concrete casemates were set into the rampart, from where flights of steps gave access to the fire-step allowing rapid manning of the rampart following a bombardment. Each casemate had the relative luxury of its own water tanks fed from the main via a supply brought in over the causeway. The casemates would have been used to store tools prior to mobilisation after which they would have been available as troop shelters. An early plan shows four of these casemates, the outer two being deleted from the later plans.

Photo:The western casemate
Photo by Nick Catford

Plan of underground or buried features

The scenic railwway utrrilised thee The scenic Just inside the entrance was a grassy mound under which was the magazine, set just below ground level. At the bottom of the steps down to the entrance was a small recess, the fuse and tube store, outside the magazine proper. Inside were two large, brick vaulted chambers overlaid with concrete and the whole being mounded with earth. One chamber was for shells and one for cartridges, the latter accessed via a shifting lobby.

Each chamber had an issue hatch allowing stores to be passed out to the magazine passage from where further hatches allowed them to be passed to a sunken way outside. The railing along this sunken way has openings in it opposite the issue hatches through which the boxes were then passed to waiting wagons. In the wall of the entrance passage were two recesses fitted with shelves that were used to store the magazine lamps in, in place of a formal lamp room.

Photo:Main entrance passage; shell store to the right, shifting lobby to the right at the end of the passage
Photo by Nick Catfor

Further information and pictures about this site continues here

[Source: Nick Catford]

Home Page
Last updated: Tuesday, 04-Jan-2011 14:55:17 GMT
© 1998-2002 Subterranea Britannica