The Western Heights Preservation Society (“WHPS”) is a volunteer run organisation and registered charity (no 1135556) set up in July 2000 to achieve the following goals;
- To conserve, preserve and provide interpretation of the Western Heights fortifications in Dover.
- To promote and publicise the Western Heights of Dover, a massive series of Napoleonic fortifications much amended over a period of 150 years or so.
- To clear, tidy and protect the built heritage of Dover’s Western Heights.
- Collect & disseminate information about the Heights to interested parties.
As a volunteer organisation we provide a series Open Days, presentations, monthly guided tours and talks all designed to help the Society raise public awareness of the Western Heights in the local and wider area. Our ongoing research helps us to better understand the development of the Western Heights throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We also undertake monthly volunteer workdays helping to clear and protect the monument and surrounding areas working in partnership with similar local organisations such as the White Cliffs Countryside project.
The Western Heights as a whole form the largest Napoleonic fortress in Britain and was an essential base for the British Army throughout the nineteenth century. It is an excellent example of British defence from the Napoleonic period right through to the Second World War.
Historically WHPS has focused very strongly on the Drop Redoubt; so far this is the only structure we have been able to freely and extensively open to the public. The Drop Redoubt and much of the Heights remains under the ownership of English Heritage and Historic England who allow us to operate the Drop Redoubt under a Maintained Properties Agreement (“MPA”). All work undertaken in the scheduled monument and surrounding conservation areas are undertaken in accordance with the necessary legal consents.
The society also manage and maintain the Grand Shaft on behalf of Dover District Council. This is a unique triple helix staircase designed to allow the movement of significant numbers of troops quickly from the Grand Shaft Barracks to the seafront in times of need.
Over the last few years the society has undertaken significant clearance work in the North Entrance and since 2016 have managed to undertake a series of guided tours as part of Heritage Open Days enabling the public to access a previously hidden treasure closed to the public for over 40 years. We hope to be able to continue and develop this in the future.
The society depends entirely on volunteer resources to carry out essential maintenance and improvement work and as a charity is entirely funded by voluntary donations and grants. All money donated to the Society is used exclusively in meeting the aims outlined in our charity constitution detailed above.