Britain commanded the oceans in the 18th century, and the navy defended Chatham Dockyard from attack by sea.

But what if there were a land invasion?

Fort Amherst and the Chatham Lines were built to defend Medway and Chatham Dockyard from possible attack by land. They had ‘Command of the Heights’, whilst the navy had ‘Command of the Oceans’.

Sadly, over time, the vital link and understanding between sea and land defence was lost.

Command Of The Heights

This joint project between Medway Council and Fort Amherst Heritage Trust has been funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. It has recreated the missing link between Chatham’s internationally significant heritage and its waterfront, and established Fort Amherst as a sustainable gateway to Chatham Dockyard’s defence land.

Command Of The Heights


Thanks to The National Lottery Heritage Fund of £1.8m, it is easier to understand the role of the fortifications in Britain’s historic military, naval and economic supremacy, also revealing the social aspects of a sustained military presence enduring over 200 years.

Today the local community and visitors can enjoy the grounds and facilities, and take pride in Fort Amherst’s vital role in Medway’s history.

Barrier Ditch

This un-scalable ditch and embankment divided the military and civilian areas of Chatham. Running from the River Medway and across into Fort Amherst, it was also a critical part of the linked defences. Now, with the demolition of 20th century buildings, the ditch and its original purpose can be seen and understood.



“ The Command of the Heights project is part of the overall regeneration of Medway. It has been a joint project between Medway Council and Fort Amherst Heritage Trust. The aim has been to reconnect the people of Medway with their local history and unveil Fort Amherst as the important heritage site it is.

The project has transformed areas of historic value including the demolition of Riverside One which sat in the historic Barrier Ditch at the waterfront. This has restored the relationship to the river and the dockyard that the fort was built to protect. Spur Battery has been transformed into an amphitheatre with seating for outdoor performances

The plans are for the waterfront to complement other regeneration projects in the town including the Chatham Placemaking Project and build on the improvements to the town centre and river walk.”

Councillor Rodney Chambers

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