Also known as Oil Mills West and Finnis Hill Caves, these remarkable structures lie beneath our feet
Kent is renowned for its underground caves and mines, from the Ramsgate tunnel network to the disused Tunbridge Wells tunnel. Dover also has its fair share of hidden secrets, including the popular tourist attraction of the Tunnels under Dover Castle.
Elsewhere, dating from the 19th century, the cellars of Champagne are said to have been built by Napoleonic prisoners of war, perhaps taking advantage of earlier lime work, suggested by the name of the road. They include five parallel tunnels mostly lined with bricks cut directly into the chalk cliff, these may reflect different stages of construction.
What can now be seen is a ground floor of interwoven tunnels, although an upper floor may have been present at some point in the considerably higher caves at the eastern end. Although the word caves is used for convenience, it should be noted that these are actually man-made structures.
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This site in the limestone cliffs of Finnis Hill is believed to have been close to the Diamond Brewery, which was the nearest building to Maxton Manor on Folkestone Road. Like declared by the archives of Dover Kentthese cellars provided an ideal storage place for wine due to the even temperature and humidity found there, and were listed next to the name of Henry Worthington (a wine merchant/brewer who is said to have built the mansion ) in St Mary’s Parish Book of Record circa 1839.
The caves were used as a bonded warehouse to store goods and later as an air-raid shelter and temporary fire station during World War II. The area in front of the caves has undergone many changes with the expansion of the port, Finnis Hill having been demolished.
More recently the caves were used by Hammonds to store fruit until the construction of the new road in the 1990s. Urban explorer Matthew Williams excavated these tunnels underground while recording for TheSecretVault YouTube Channel. These images were all captured during this exploration and offer a fascinating insight into what can be found beneath our feet in Dover.
For beautiful historical images from the past, take a look at memorylane.fr and see what you can discover.
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