Thursday 29th June
5:01pm
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Crownhill Fort Outer Defences

The main tunnel was built as a 'Countermining Gallery' for Crownhill Fort during the 1860's. This was to make sure that if the crafty French tried to tunnel in from the north, we could blow them up with charges in tunnels of our own! This approach was greatly enhanced by intersecting two East/West tunnels which carried the Plymouth and Devonport leats, which where already in place and bringing fresh water from Dartmoor into the towns.

The two tunnels that contained the leats are parallel and about 2m apart, one tunnel is 2 foot higher than the other. The higher of the two tunnels used to carry the Plymouth leat which Sir Francis Drake had built in 1590-91 (construction was held up by the war with Spain and the Armada!). The lower Devonport leat was not built until the 1790's.
The Countermining Gallery is built with walls of local stone with a brick vaulted roof, in a similar way to those built inside the fort. The tunnels for the leats are semi-circular arches of local stone, parts of which have been covered with a cement surface. Where the tunnels near the ends the roof is constructed by huge slabs of stone.