Eastbourne Ashridge Circle|Founded 1947

Lecture Date: March 17, 2025


Speaker: FRANCIS PULHAM - Illustrated

An overview of the current restoration and revitalisation of a major symbol of East Sussex military history and defence through the ages.

Newhaven Fort is perhaps the most elegant – and certainly the largest – 19th century defensive structure in Sussex. Epitomising Victorian patriotic fervour, it was built at a time of great industrial change. Outgoing were black powder, coal and horses: incoming were modern guns, oil, petrol engines and cars. So the fort was going to have to adapt continually to changing military requirements.

Eventually – and inevitably – the march of time made the old ‘warrior’ obsolete and unfit for continued military service and it was sold to Newhaven Town Council, ending almost 100 years as a military symbol and over four centuries of coastal defence at Newhaven. Thereafter, sadly, it fell into a state of neglect, progressing to disrepair and eventually ruin.

However, a major restoration programme is currently in the process of revitalising the fort, bringing its many exhibitions and displays back to life with 21st-century technology. The work is expected to be complete early in 2025 and will hopefully lead to a sharp upturn in public interest. It should become a ‘must-visit’ outing for children and enhance their understanding of our national heritage.

Francis is the Collections Custodian at the fort. He is a published historian, specialising in Soviet cultural and military affairs and in 20th-century warfare.