THEN AND NOW: INNER LINES & SALLY PORT
By Ben Levick
The name Inner Lines
was originaly applied to all the open area immediately behind the defensive
ramparts of Chatham Lines. This area was intended for the mustering and
manouvering of troops for the defense of the fortifications, and were
initialy kept free of buildings. As time went by some buildings, mainly miltary,
appeared here, although much remained open, some eventually becoming the
Officers' or Garrison Gardens.
The Sally Port was a defensive gateway in the Chatham Lines between Wood
Street and Fort Amherst, built to allow troops to "sally forth" and
counter-attack or outflank any troops attacking Fort Amherst or Chatham
Lines. Later the name was applied to the road leading from the juntion of
Military Road and Garden Street across to the gate and the Great Lines.
Holy Trinity Church, Inner Lines/Sally Port, Brompton, c. 1910 and 2010
photograph entitled Old Brompton, Inner Lines and Trinity Church comprising
a view of Holy Trinity parish church, Military Road (later Maxwell Road)
and the Inner Lines, looking north-north-east, showing in fore and right
middle grounds and right distance path leading through avenue of trees and
in the left middle ground Military Road, church and spire. The buildings at
the left side of the picture are the Conway Hall and Trinity Church School
In December 1868, by permission of the Secretary for War a portion of the
inner line of fortifications, adjoining Fort Amherst, Chatham, was been set
apart as a recreation ground for the use of the officers connected with the
garrison. The avenue of trees was part of this Victorian park which included
carriage drives and tennis courts.
The open land behind King's
Bastion is now much more overgrown than it was, although the line of the tree-lined
avenue can still just be made out. It seems many of the trees may have been felled,
but allowed to spring back up, effectively coppicing them. The most distinctive
landmark of the earlier picture - Holy Trinity Church - is long gone, but some of
the school buildings can still be seen to the left, incorporated into the modern
Inner Lines/Sally Port c. 1912 and 2011
This view is taken from the
open area behind the King's Bastion of Chatham Lines, looking north to the Sally Port
and the Garrison Gymnasium. The Gymnasium was built in 1863.
It is a postcard photograph entitled 'Sally Port and Gymnasium' comprising a view of
the Garrison Gymnasium and Royal Engineers’ offices looking north-east across Inner
Lines towards Sally Port. In the foreground sheep are grazing on Inner Lines, in the
middle ground a shrubbery, wooden fence and clump of trees partly hide the R.E. offices.
In the left middle-distance is the gymnasium and in the right middle distance inner side
of the Sally Port guardhouse.
The view has changed substantially
since the old photo. Perhaps the only remaining feature are the 3 trees in centre of the
shot. The Garrison Gymnasium is still there but is now hidden by the Army housing built
between 1930s and the 1970s
Garrison Gymnasium, Late 19th Century and 2010
Photograph of Garrison Gymnasium
looking north-east across Inner Lines towards the building, showing in the foreground a
civilian bystander looking at camera, in the middle ground the gymnasium and in the left
distance trees and structure adjacent to Brompton Road/Wood Street. It was built by
Matthews and Sons of Dover, government contractors in 1863 and opened in 1864.
April 2, 1863
By direction of the Duke of Cambridge, a number of non-commisioned officers are to be
selected from the battalions at Chatham garrison in order that they may undergo a special
course of training to qualify them as instructors at the military gymnasium which is about
being established at Chatham.
The new gymnasium, the erection of which has been commenced, will be placed in an appropriate
private spot within the Inner Lines of fortifications, and within a convenient distance from
the several barracks in Chatham garrison.
The building will be one of the most commodious establishmets of the kind yet erected, and
will be adapted in a complete manner for carrying on the physical education and training of the
officers and troops according to the suggestions and recommendations of the Army Sanitary
The main building will be close to 200 ft. in length, and will include a school of arms 100 ft.
long by 50 ft. wide, together with a separate gymnasium, with a prepared soft floor, of exactly
the same dimensions. Communicating with the two large rooms will be an officers fencing room 50
ft. by 25 ft., together with dressing and other rooms for officers and men, as well as instructors'
and other apartments. The whole will be surmounted by a handsome square tower, rising to the height
of 70 ft.
The builder is Mr. A. Mathews, of Dover, and the plans and drawings were prepared at the Royal
Engineer Establishment, Chatham. It was designed by Archibald Maclaren. The whole is to be completed
and ready to be taken possesion of by the Government in eight months from the contract being signed.
The view of the gymnasium in the 19th century is
impossible to recreate today due to the building of housing that has occured in the mid and late 20th
century, obscuring the view of it. The Building itself seems to have remained substantially unchanged.
The Sally Port Guardhouse Between Kings Bastion and Prince Edwards Bastion c.1906 and 2010
This photo shows the rear of the guardhouse, just
behind the Sally Port. Although the Sally Port gate, rampart and ditch were destroyed in 1906 to allow a
road across the Great Lines, the guardhouse (or blockhouse) remained until the late 1950s.
The guardhouse is long gone, demolished in the late
1950s or early 1960s and since then the land has become rather overgrown with self-seeded trees and bushes.
The Sally Port Guardhouse c.1950 and 2010
Although largely derelict, the Sally Port Guardhouse
remained an imposing feature between the Great Lines and Brompton until the 1950s.
This car park was built on the site of
the Sally Port Blockhouse after its demolition in the early 1960s.
The Sally Port c.1906 and 2010
The Sally Port during the final stages of demolition
in January 1906. The gate and rampart are almost entirely gone, although the guardhouse is still an imposing
structure dominating the view. Behind the guardhouse the spire of Holy Trinity Church can be seen.
This is the view looking towards the site of the Sally
Port guardhouse from the Great Lines. The bridge over the ditch would have been just behind the car.
The Sally Port Guardhouse c.1906 and 2011
This view is looking along the front of the guardhouse,
in the 'courtyard' between the guardhouse and the gate. The bridge seen in the picture joins the guardhouse to
King's Bastion. This photo was taken at the time of the demolition of the gate and the northern bridge to
Prince Edward's Bastion in January 1906.
By January 2011, the guardhouse has long since been
demolished and the brickwork of King's Bastion has been lowered since the days of this being a defensive