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The Thames: Secret War

Episode 4 of 4

Ben Robinson flies over the Thames to reveal discoveries about WWI, including a network of trenches on the Hoo peninsula near the former Chattenden Barracks.

Archaeologist Ben Robinson flies over the Thames to uncover new discoveries about World War 1. A whole network of trenches has been discovered on The Hoo peninsula. Invisible from the ground, they were recently found from aerial images of the area next to the former Chattenden Barracks. The trenches were used for experimentation and training of soldiers and can be directly linked to trenches used in Belgium in WW1. The trenches are just one feature revealed by the first full aerial survey of the area by English Heritage. Much of the history of this area is being recorded from the air before its destroyed by coastal erosion and development.

29 minutes

Last on

Tue 24 Sep 2019 19:00

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:08

    David Arcadia, Dr Azimuth


The Thames' secret war

The Thames' secret war

The Thames is perhaps a surprisingly rich source for aerial archaeologists - especially the Hoo Peninsula.

The Hoo Peninsula became an important line of defence and a testing ground for experimental military endeavour during the 19th and early 20th Centuries.

Its remoteness and wide open spaces made it a good choice for the highly dangerous business of manufacturing the explosives that kept the Royal Navy fighting.

It may come as a surprise to many that archaeological effort is being invested in recording and protecting the most significant examples of the remains of the fairly recent military past.

However, natural erosion and development are threatening the heritage of the Hoo Peninsular.

It is this heritage that connects us to the history of some of the darkest hours and most momentous chapters in the nation’s history.


Role Contributor
Presenter Ben Robinson
Executive Producer Diana Hare
Producer Paul Dunt


Presenter's blog post: "Our knowledge is being transformed by the aerial view"

Presenter's blog post: "Our knowledge is being transformed by the aerial view"

Read Ben Robinson's post on the BBC Love TV Blog.