The Grand Shaft, Dover

The Grand Shaft, Dover

The Grand Shaft is a unique triple-helix staircase in a tunnel. It descends 140 feet from the top of the Heights to Snargate Street, straight through the White Cliffs of Dover. It was built to offer rapid passage up and down between the barracks of Western Heights and the town.

Construction began in 1806 but was not completed until three years later, bedeviled by bad weather that continually caused the sides to collapse. At this time, Snargate Street was a red-light district with taverns and brothels. A guardhouse and prison cells were built at the entrance to the tunnel. The cells were used to put drunken soldiers in for the night.

After World War II ended, the barracks at Western Heights fell into ruin and, in the 1960s, were torn down. The Grand Shaft was no longer being used and became a place in town for folks to dump their rubbish. Eventually, a restoration took place, and the site became open to the public.

Visits to the Graft Shaft and its staircase are available between March and November, on the third Sunday of the month. It is well worth seeing as the only triple spiral staircase in the country.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Dover. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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The Grand Shaft on Map

Sight Name: The Grand Shaft
Sight Location: Dover, England (See walking tours in Dover)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Dover, England

Create Your Own Walk in Dover

Create Your Own Walk in Dover

Creating your own self-guided walk in Dover is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Dover Introduction Walking Tour

Dover Introduction Walking Tour

The lovely coastal town of Dover in Kent, England, overlooking the English Channel from the height of the striking white chalk cliffs, has long been a major sea gate to the country. It is to this iconic landmark, known as the "White Cliffs of Dover", that the isle of Great Britain owes its nickname, the Albion.

According to archaeological findings, this location at the narrowest...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
Western Heights Walking Tour

Western Heights Walking Tour

The Western Heights of Dover is an impressive fortification built for protection against invaders. Construction took place at the time of the Napoleonic Wars, with improvements continuing during the 19th century. This immense hilltop fortress features an incredible network of forts, barracks, tunnels, ramparts, and massive ditches.

There are two forts at Western Heights, the Drop Redoubt and...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 Km or 1.2 Miles