Fort Pitt, Kent

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Coordinates: 51°22′51.66″N 0°30′50.63″E / 51.3810167°N 0.5140639°E / 51.3810167; 0.5140639

"Chatham Dockyard from Fort Pitt", 1831. This is the view north from the fort, down the River Medway towards the estuary
Fort Pitt in 2008

Fort Pitt was a fort built between 1805 and 1819 on the high ground of the boundary between Chatham and Rochester, Kent. It did not last long because it became a hospital for invalid soldiers in 1828, with an asylum added in 1849. Prompted by Florence Nightingale, the first Army Medical School was founded there in 1860, then to move to Netley in Hampshire in 1863.[1] By the 1920s the hospital was closed and the site converted into a girls' school, now known as Fort Pitt Grammar School. The University for the Creative Arts building also occupies part of the site of the original fort and some original brickwork remains visible at the side of the building.

Most of the outer defences of the fort survive including parts of the outer works which extend into the adjacent recreation grounds to the east and west. Some of the internal buildings date to the period of use as a hospital and possibly earlier, maybe even preceding the defensive works. From the hill it is possible to see Fort Clarence tower to the west, and the remains of Fort Amherst to the north east. A ditch, wall and (reputedly) tunnels were to link the three into a single fortified Napoleonic defensive line, defending the naval docks against a (land-based) attack from the south.

The Fort Pitt Military Cemetery, created initially to serve the hospital, lies by the A229 road from Rochester to Maidstone. The graves include 290 of Commonwealth service personnel from the World Wars, 265 from World War I, who lie in an extensive plot, and 25 (including two unidentified) from World War II who are mainly buried in a group north of that plot.[2]

Fort Pitt is also the location of the fictional duel between Mr. Nathaniel Winkle and Dr. Slammer in Charles Dickens' novel The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club.[3]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ A E W Miles, The Accidental Birth of Military Medicine, Civic Books, London, 2009 ISBN 9781-904104-95-7, page 118
  2. ^ [1] CWGC Cemetery report.
  3. ^ Dickens, Charles. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Works of Charles Dickens. Avenel Books, 1978, 25

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