Fort Burgoyne West Wing Battery opening event a sell out!

30th March 2023

Scheduled ancient monument Fort Burgoyne welcomed over 150 visitors on Saturday 25 March for the official opening of the West Wing Battery which is also now host to the sound installation ‘I would Rather Walk With You’ by Emily Peasgood. Followed by an open day on Sunday 26 March, with over 200 adults and children alike enjoying performances and activities.

The Fort, usually closed to the public, was acquired by green space charity, the Land Trust in 2014 with the aim and vision of transforming the site for the local community’s benefit, delivering over £2million of structural stabilisation works so far. Over six years, the Fort’s West Wing has been renovated, converting this historic relic, into a new recreation and small event space for the community of Dover. Funding from National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council for Pioneering Places East Kent has also opened up opportunities for the way the space is used.

With much anticipation, the sold-out events gave visitors the opportunity to explore the newly transformed community space and experience the new musical artwork, ‘I Would Rather Walk With You’ by composer and sonic artist, Emily Peasgood. Visitors had the chance to hear the newly written sounds playing through the walls of the West Wing Battery as they approached and moved through it.

On the Sunday, the space was brought to life with performances from Dover Tales, Dover Youth Theatre, Sound Waves Choir, Pete and Finn, Paul Cheneour together with an array of activities organised by White Cliffs Countryside Partnership, South Kent MIND and the Maison Dieu team for people to enjoy.

The Fort forms an important part of the history of the defence of Dover and the United Kingdom. It dates back to the 1860s, when it was originally built to protect Dover Castle with its imposing façade.

Chris Valdus, Fort Burgoyne Heritage Project Manager at the Land Trust said: “We were delighted at the turn out of people to the Fort over the weekend. It was fantastic to see the members of the public exploring the site and enjoying the activities available to them.

“The ’I would rather walk with you’ is a brilliant example of how art can engage new audiences with historic sites.  The installation has been sympathetically designed with the piece taking people on a journey which recognises past military use of the Wing and encourages them to engage in creating a positive future for the space. We look forward to welcoming visitors to future events at the site again later in the year.”

Moving through 2023 to 2024, the West Wing will be available for organisations and community groups to use under licence for picnics, music, theatre and cinema events all of which have been proved possible by the opening events.  It is also hoped the site will be open most days of the week for informal recreation use by the community.

There are a variety of events being held at the Fort in partnership with White Cliffs Countryside Partnership and third-party providers in 2023, these include Fort Burgoyne Guided Walks and History Tours, educational courses run by the Green Angels, Magnificent Moths morning and lots of seasonal community fun activities. Visit the Forts Facebook page for further details – Fort Burgoyne | Dover | Facebook.

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