Swansea, United Kingdom
June 6, 2003
The Grand Shaft is a 140ft triple spiral staircase dug through the cliff between 1806 - 1809. The three staircases were intended to get troops from the Grand Shaft barracks and down to the harbour very quickly to meet any invasion force, particularly that of Napoleons, as at the time of the French Wars in the late 18th and early 19th centuries it was generally feared that Napoleon would invade Britain through Dover as it was the nearest English port and town to France and was indeed so close that observers at Dover could see Napoleon's great armies massing at Boulogne.
However as the invasion never came the Grand Shaft was instead used as a quick route for the soldiers to the public houses and brothels of Snargate Street and the surrounding area. The staircases were also prone to the strong class prejudices of the Victorian army, and for some time each staircase was meant for 'Officers and their Ladies', 'Sergeants and their Wives', and 'Soldiers and their Women' respectively.
The Grand Shaft was restored in the 1980s and is opened by Dover Museum during the summer.
From journal Dover, Kent aka The Gateway to England