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Monday, November 13, 2006

Champagne Caves, Dover

This set of tunnels is located just West of the tunnels known as the Oil Mills, in the Limekiln Street area of Dover. It is likely that the tunnels were originally the result of chalk being mined for lime burning in the nearby kilns during the 19th Century. The five roughly parallel tunnels are cut directly into the chalk cliff face with adjoining passages between, and have very high ceilings and evidence of originally having a second floor. The caves were used as a Bonded Store to house goods awaiting payment of customs tax and later as an air raid shelter and temporary fire station during WW2. These tunnels have been known by a number of names over the years, including 'Finnis Hill Caves', 'Champagne Caves' and simply 'Oil Mill Cave'. The area in front of the caves (part of the Pier District) has been greatly modified with the expansion of the harbour, Finnis Hill and Limekiln Street having been demolished. The caves were used by Hammonds to store fruit, until the building of the new road in the 1990s, which left the main entrance below ground level. The only access remains from a second floor doorway.

These caves are privately owned, many thanks to the owners for allowing this visit, and to our knowledgeable guide.

Entrance to the tunnels

Large vaulted chamber

Tunnel section

Recess for light

looking along one passage

Junction between two tunnels
Looking down another stretch of tunnel

Ventilation shaft, going up to roof

Circular room in the centre

Ventilation gaps in roof

Passage between the tunnels
Smaller archway

42 comments:

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Awesome stuff, i have been to the upper and lower oil mills but totally missed this one! Do you know if access is still possible?

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