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Historic England Research Records

Fort Pitt

Hob Uid: 416065
Location :
Medway
Non Civil Parish
Grid Ref : TQ7503067577
Summary : Fort Pitt Grammar School in Chatham was originally built as a military hospital in 1803. In 1805, its conversion to a fort began with the building of ramparts around the hospital buildings. The fort was almost complete by 1813 however some construction continued until 1819. In 1815, the fort accommodated some of those wounded in the Battle of Waterloo. In 1828 Fort Pitt Hospital became a depot for invalided soldiers. The hospital proper, housed in the H-plan buildings within the fort, had nine wards which could accommodate 200 people. In 1847 a psychiatric hospital for mentally ill servicemen, or an 'asylum' as it was known at the time, was added to house up to 23 men and two officers. In the early to mid 19th century Fort Pitt was a major military hospital at which almost all soldiers invalided to Britain from the colonies were assessed prior to their discharge from service. This included most of the sick and wounded from the Crimea and the Indian Mutiny. Fort Pitt was designated a General Military Hospital in 1849 and continued in use as such until after World War I. The fabric of the fort experienced some alterations during the occupancy of the hospital, most notably the demolition of the central tower in 1910. The hospital is perhaps best known for its association with Florence Nightingale who selected Fort Pitt as the temporary site for the first Army Medical School which opened in 1861 and remained there for two years. In September 1929 the local Education Board bought Fort Pitt from the War Department and converted the hospital into a Technical School for Girls. Although much of the fabric of the fort was extant at this time, the casemated barracks were demolished in about 1932 to allow the school to develop, and during the Second World War minor modifications were made to some of the underground chambers to provide air raid shelters for the school.
More information : TQ 751 676. Fort Pitt. It was originally proposed to build a fort on this site in the 1790's to defend the river from Upnor to Rochester in conjunction with Fort Amherst (TQ 76 NE 58). In 1805 when there was a threat of invasion from France the Board of Ordnance drew up plans to build a fort. Following alterations to the original plans work was not completed until 1819 by which time two auxiliary towers were constructed on the flanks of the fort and were named Delce and Gibraltar. The fort was intended to form part of a defensive system known as Brompton Lines (TQ 76 NE 58). The illustration card has a plan showing the layout of the fort. Fort Pitt's life as a defensive work was short lived, for in 1828 it became a depot for invalided soldiers and in 1847 an asylum for insane servicemen was constructed which was in a separate fenced off section of the fort. In 1879 the Gibraltar Tower to the W of the fort was demolished to make way for St Andrew's church. Delce Tower was probably demolished shortly afterwards. In the early 1920's the hospital was closed and in 1927 the site was purchased by Kent Education Committee for conversion into the Chatham Technical School for Girls. The site is now occupied by the Medway College of Design. Today much of the old fort and hospital remain incorporated into the Medway Technical School for Girls, Medway College of Design and the Medway College Annex which was constructed on the southern part of the fort. (1)

General listing. (2)

An earthwork survey was undertaken within Jacksopn Recreation Ground to the west of Fort Pitt. This demonstrated that earthworks related to the fort extend into the recreation ground. These included the remains of an outwork that ran across the survey area towards Delce Tower to the west, now mostly destroyed by a sports field and skateboard park. (3)

Fort Pitt is a scheduled monument and information used to create this record has been taken from the National Heritage List for England - for a full description of the site please go to this source.

According to the list entry, 'contemporary plans demonstrate that a major work in the form of a star fort was being considered although this design was not ultimately built.' It states that construction did not begin on the site until 1803, when the military hospital was built. (4)

See source for details. (5)

Fort Pitt, situated on the boundary between Rochester and Chatham, was originally constructed in the 18th Century as
a type of fort known as a `Star fort'. The fort had a hexagonal shape with six bastions going off at the angles protected by a series of ditches and outworks. Between 1805 and 1819 the fort was rebuilt forming a rough square with four bastions protruding at the corners and a large casemented bastion at the front to house artillery. The centre piece of the fort was a large brick tower or keep which would have been very similar to the tower at Fort Clarence. In 1847 the fort was turned into a depot for invalided soldiers and then in 1849 a general military hospital. In the 1920s the fort ceased to be a hospital and the moat was filled in and ground to the east levelled out. In 1927 the fort was converted into Chatham Technical School for Girls. The school incorporates many of the old hospital buildings. (6)


Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Kent Arch Rev 47 1977 172-176 (KR Gulvin)
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Source Number : 2
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : A Handbook of Kent's Defences 1540-1945 1977 12 (D Bennett)
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Source Number : 3
Source : Fort Pitt, Chatham, Kent: An Earthwork Analysis of Jackson Recreation Ground
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Source Number : 4
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : English Heritage. (2011). Fort Pitt: List Entry [accessed 02-SEP-2011]
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Source Number : 5
Source : A handbook of Kent's defences from 1540 until 1945
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Page(s) : 12
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Source Number : 6
Source : The Medway forts : a short guide
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Monument Types:
Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : NBR Index Number
External Cross Reference Number : 100722
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 172968
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1336107
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1021432
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 36204
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TQ 76 NE 84
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1624815
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: HOSPITALS PROJECT
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1991-01-01
End Date : 1995-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, MID KENT COLLEGE, CITY WAY
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2005-01-01
End Date : 2005-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, JACKSON RECREATION GROUND
Activity type : ANALYTICAL EARTHWORK SURVEY
Start Date : 2007-09-17
End Date : 2007-09-21
Associated Activities : Primary, MID KENT COLLEGE, CITY WAY
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31