Matthias Koch: War & Peace Dover commission

War & Peace

Dover is on the cusp of major new developments in some of its important historical sites. Dover’s history, through the town’s strategic geographical position and natural harbour, is inextricably bound with the military and seafaring history of Great Britain. Dover, sitting as it does at the shortest crossing place on the English Channel, has always been both a significant place of defence and of exchange.

This is fertile territory for Photographer Matthias Koch and his specially adapted fire engine and camera attached to the end of the ladder which he activates from the driver’s seat to take incredibly detailed, oblique-angled panoramic photographs of key historical sites: “the slight aerial view provides a different view of details and a more interestingly detached perspective than a ground level photograph … At the same time, the perspective isn’t so high that these would take on the appearance of surveillance

Following on from his Normandy – Atlantic Wall series Koch had long wanted to record historically poignant sites in and around Dover. In 2006 Koch wrote: “I have spent time working along the French coast, where the German military prepared itself in the 1940´s for the allied landing. I would now like to research the relics of the Second World War in Dover District.”

Koch spent three weeks photographing Dover’s key historical sites, such as Western Heights, Fort Burgoyne, and the Harbour including Lord Wardens House. He also researched lesser-known sites such as the airstation at Capel, Cross-Channel gun positions at St Margaret-at-Cliffe, searchlight positions on Langdon Cliffs, radar sites and the Dover Turret on the pier.

All photographs copyright Matthias Koch