Traditionally the South coast of England is where we've fought our battles, and defended ourselves. A hop, skip and a jump away from the continent, divided only by the narrow stretch of the English Channel. It is Britain's front line.
The Martello towers - Folkestone, Kent
74 of these round towers were built along the South coast between 1805 and 1808. They were designed to protect England against invasion from the French. At that time, we were at war with France and a huge encampment of soldiers was poised at Bologne, ready to invade. Some of the towers were later re-fortified for defensive use during the Second World war. At their 200th birthday, some now stand derelict but some have been turned into private homes. The towers are not normally open to the public.
The Sound Mirrors - Denge, Kent
These three concrete "listening ears" range in size from 20 to 200 feet in size. They were built between World War I and II: designed to give early warning of incoming enemy aircraft. Nick Crane and a team of academics experimented with how the mirrors actually worked. With the invention of radar in 1935, the sound mirrors became obsolete, but the relay system that their creator, Dr Tucker, had devised, was vital to the success of radar. Unfortunately the sound mirrors are not normally open to the public.
- The Romans saw the value of Portsmouth's massive natural harbour in the 3rd Century and built Portchester castle there.
- Henry 8th established the Navy Royal. The pride of the fleet was his flagship, the Mary Rose, based in Portsmouth.
- Nelson set sail from Portsmouth, in the Victory, to take part in the Battle of Trafalgar
- Portsmouth was home to the first dry dock in the World
- Portsmouth is the largest British Naval Base
Many of the historic sites in Portsmouth are open to the public - for more details visit their website.
The Channel Island of Alderney is only eight miles from the French coast. For five years during WW2 it was occupied by the Germans. It was the site of the only German concentration Camp on British soil. Prisoners, many of which were Jewish and Russian, provided slave labour to build immense gun emplacements.
The bunkers are not open to the public, but visitors can walk around the area, or find out more from Alderney Society Museum in the High Street.
This 95 mile stretch of coast is a window onto 185 million years of history. Known as the Jurassic coast, it actually spans from the most ancient rocks of the Triassic, through the Jurassic to the most recent Cretaceous. Famous for its fossils; it is not so well known for its fossil fuels.
- BP have been extracting oil from the area for over 30 years
- There could be up to 100 million barrels of oil still waiting to be discovered beneath the cliffs
- The Jurassic layer stretches in a diagonal line across England, from Dorset to Whitby.
- The Jurassic Coast is designated an Unesco World Heritage site. The coastline is open to the public.