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History W. T. Henley was a cable/wire company that was founded in a small London-based workshop in 1837. William Thomas Henley is famous for having converted his old lathe into a wiring covering machine which was used to cover wire with silk and cotton as this was in high demand at the time for electromagnetic apparatus. It is reported that Henley’s company progressed at an impressive rate and that he pioneered the submarine cable field (laying cables on the sea bed between land-based stations to carry telecommunication signals across stretches of ocean).It was Henley’s dream that all of civilisation would eventually be linked together telegraphically. As WT Henley’s Telegraph Works continued to prosper, Henley decided to purchase a factory at North Woolwich beside the Thames in 1859 for £8,000. It is said that this development led to the laying of the Persian Gulf telegraph cable which is 1615 miles long, for the Indian Government. As a result, by the end of 1873 Henley’s Woolwich site had spread to cover some sixteen acres and his company also included three cable laying ships and a four-hundred-foot wharf to allow five-hundred-ton ships to load and unload their cargo. Sadly, Henley died in 1882; however, his company continued to grow in his absence and went on to form branches across the country. By 1906 work on a new factory in Gravesend was completed. The new factory is said to have been an impressive development and it included extensive, purpose-built, laboratories and a modern reinforced concrete air-raid shelter under London Road that could hold approximately two-thousand people. The tunnels were built into old caves within the Rosherville Gardens – an area of land located between the cable works and the cliff face. It is likely that the air-raid shelter was factory-owned but also open to the public as Henley’s company did not actually own Rosherville Gardens at the time and it featured a number of amenities and six entrances. Henley’s company continued to thrive as the Victorian era ended; however, its success can be linked directly to the Great War as it was a catalyst for technological and industrial development and change. By the Second World War, Henley’s company was publicly praised for its contribution towards King and Country – particularly its contribution to ‘Operation Pluto’ (the construction of petrol pipelines across the English Channel). Despite this success, a decision was made to close the main Henley factory at Woolwich due to the repeated damaged it suffered during the war years. A new factory was subsequently built at Birtley in the North East due to its reputation for being a ‘misty valley’ that made it difficult for the Luftwaffe to target factories, and this was completed in 1950. Sadly, a change of events occurred in 1958 when AEI acquired Henley’s company, having already taken over Siemens Bros in 1953. However, AEI is now the world’s oldest cable company and recently celebrated its one-hundred and seventy-fifth anniversary. Unfortunately, Henley’s Gravesend site was closed in 2008, though, due to it being ‘no longer viable to operate because of strong European competition’. Our Version of Events Not much by way of events for this one. It’s been a very busy few months and we ended up here to take a break after doing a spot of house viewing. Since we’d spent all day and most of the evening looking at damp, shitty rental properties that all looked as though they ought to be photographed and placed as reports on here, we arrived outside AEI in the early hours of the morning. Armed only with the essentials, our tripods, cameras and cans of Stella Artois, we made our way over the epic bog that you have to cross to find the entrance to the old shelter. We really underestimated how muddy this bit of wasteland was going to be to be honest and very nearly ended up taking a cold midnight mud bath several times. Nevertheless, we eventually made it across, with all our beers intact you’ll be happy to know. From this point onwards, getting into the old shelter was pretty straightforward. Once inside, we immediately set about taking our snaps. There was a shared feeling among us that the heavy feeling of tiredness was impending so we wanted to get the hard bit of the explore out of the way quickly. It didn’t really take long to photograph the place in the end though, once we’d worked out the general layout of the structure which is a grid-like setup. This left us with plenty of time to each pull up a chemical toilet and enjoy a few bevvies. And that’s how it ended. The tins were cracked and we sat wondering what it would have felt like to hear explosions outside and the thunder of guns shaking the paint and dirt from the ceiling. In reality, all we could really hear was a superb silence and the odd drip coming from a room to our left. What better way to finish an explore, with beers in hand and an abundance of chemical toilets at the ready. Explored with Ford Mayhem. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21:
Wasnt going to do a report as ive bunged the odd one up here and there but the wifes blocked my view of the tv with a table she is painting so here goes.. We first visited this place back in 2011 with some comedy gold access to boot! Access was as funny if not funnier this time round ,Big shout to Woody on this one,thanks matey! Brief history stolen from underground Kent The company W T Henley has always been highly regarded for the manufacture of cable and electrical components and was clearly the company of choice when a system had to be devised as a countermeasure to the growing threat of German magnetic mines during the Second World War. As a result, a new site was constructed in 1939 in Gravesend for W T Henley and a complex of tunnels built underneath to provide air raid shelter for the company’s employees With at least six entrances, the air raid shelter was very clearly signed internally to ensure that there was no confusion when looking for your allocated space. Cut into chalk and lined with prefabricated concrete, the shelter tunnels were well laid out, including first aid areas and numerous latrines – in the form of Elson buckets. The tunnels themselves don’t seem to have much in the way of documented history unlike the cable works.. pics... I probably have more shots of this but these happen to be on my flickr and i cba with photobucket these days so this is what you get Explored with non member Trav who without i may still be down there now..
After an early sat morning start and the great english weather (PISSING DOWN AGAIN ). Me and wevsky head off to pick up obscurity and maniac, After a short drive up to northfleet we meet up with troglodyte peach and kheridr . A quick beer and breakfast stop then off to AEI henley cable works and shelters. What was to follow was an amazing set of tunnels,no graffiti completely untouched .Right after thanking wevsky for sorting the trip out and a to mr t for your help A brief bit of history W T Henley / AEI Cable Works Air Raid Shelter, The company W T Henley has always been highly regarded for the manufacture of cable and electrical components and was clearly the company of choice when a system had to be devised as a countermeasure to the growing threat of German magnetic mines during the Second World War. As a result, a new site was constructed in 1939 in Gravesend for W T Henley and a complex of tunnels built underneath to provide air raid shelter for the company’s employees. Taken from undergroundkent... on with the pics a few of the shelters maglite thanks for looking ....
Yep, this place has had a hammering recently. I feel a bit gutted I never realised this existed untill recent reports, and then when further reports of the underground tunnels emerged earlier this month I knew a visit was needed. I just wish I'd got to this place when it was all still there the complete works would have been pretty immense, but it was still a good day out. Cheers to Wevsky for getting everyone together, and everyone else for making it a very funny day. (Apologies for the length of the history) The history of WT Henley, who founded the company that bore his name, began in a workshop in London, 1837, with the manufacture of covered wires. Henley progressed at an impressive rate and pioneered the submarine cable field with the dream of seeing all of civilisation linked together telegraphically. In 1859 he spent Â£8,000 building a factory at North Woolwich beside the Thames. His name would soon be synonymous with the development of submarine telegraph cables, a success story that culminated in 1863 with the laying of the Persian Gulf telegraph cable, 1615 miles long, for the Indian Government. By the end of 1873, the Henley site had spread to cover some 16 acres and Henley owned three cable laying ships and a 400 foot wharf to allow 500 ton ships to load and unload. Henley died in 1882, but the company he formed went from strength to strength with branches throughout the country. In 1906 work was completed on the impressive Gravesend factory on the Thames, which like the North Woolwich factory included wharf facilities but, perhaps more impressively, extensive purpose built research laboratories. The choice of Gravesend for a site was an easy one, as company historian Ernest Slater wrote in 1937 "Gravesend is where the sea ends and the river begins." During these same Victorian years Sir William Siemens, who founded Siemens and Halske in1858, was equally as active in the manufacture of submarine cables, in addition to projects as diverse as dynamos and recording instruments. The Victorian Era came to a close and soon the Great War swept Europe, acting as a great catalyst for technological and industrial change, particularly in the realms of electrical equipment and distribution. The great depression followed and during these bleak years The Edison Swan Electric Company became the founder member of the Associated Electrical Industries (AEI) in 1929. The Second World War saw Henley's company winning praise for various tasks performed for King and Country, especially its contribution to 'Operation Pluto', the system of petrol pipelines across the English Channel. The main Henley factory at North Woolwich, however, suffered repeated damage during the war years that led to the decision to build a purpose-built factory at Birtley in the North East, completed in 1950. In 1953, AEI acquired Siemens Bros., taking over the Liverpool Electric Cables Company in 1958 and Henleys a year later. These cable companies were integrated as the AEI Cable Division, re-organised in 1960 into four product groups. In 1967 the General Electric Company took over AEI Cables and Hackbridge Cables Co., culminating in the formation of AEI Cables Ltd in 1968. In 1982 production of Mineral Insulated Cables commenced at AEI's Cables Bootle factory in Merseyside. AEI cables are supplied into market sectors including Construction, Defence, Fire Protection, Industrial, Mining, Oil and Gas, Power and Rail. The Gravesend site was finally closed to production in 2008. (History borrowed from http://www.discovergravesham.co.uk/business-industry/aei-henley.html) Yep, not a lot left! The remains of the power house were worth seeing. The ladder to this platform was sketchy as fook (Wevsky bottled it ) Then there's the air raid shelter complex. This was probably one of the best constructed shelters I've seen, certainly on this scale anyway. The whole thing is concrete lined throughout and must have taken quite a while to have constructed. It's remarkably un-vandalised. Thanks for looking, Maniac.