Saturday, 18 September 2010

Newhaven Fort

As part of my Seaford project, I'll be making some WW2 coastal defence scenery. Thankfully, 2 miles from my front door is Newhaven fort. I was able to take some photos when it was closed to Joe Public.

Sadly, its hard to get into the fort these days unless there is a public event there, which then means you can't take decent pictures because of advertising, grotty kids and ice cream vans etc. So i think these pics may be some of the few decent reference pics available. Also, the beach has been closed off by a French company who operate the port. They are able to do this under some legal clause. Its so ironic because the fort was originally built to keep Napoleon at bay!

The panorama picture above shows how important the fort was. There is a large open bay to the east, a port, a fairly deep channel river going quite a way inland, a railway line and a swing bridge. The bridge carried the main coast road and also the gas supply for everything east of the river, so the Germans could have caused chaos just by seizing it and opening it! The open killing ground leading from the bay was the Tidemills village and industry, with its own railway branch. Realising the Germans could use Tidemills to hold the beach after a landing, the MOD destroyed it totally, with the last residents forcibly relocated in 1939. The fort guns could decimate anything on the bay or open ground, but contrary to local belief, the fort guns were not used to destroy the village.

The buildings are a typical mix of bunkers, tunnels and subterranean structures. The guns have unrestricted views of the beach and approach water. They also have a high elevation to the beach. Add to this that some bunkers on the cliff face had entrances from tunnels to the rear of the fort, invaders would have found taking them near impossible. The twisting roads, tunnels and below line-of-sight building entrances also meant strafing was pointless and bombing was difficult.

I will try to get pictures of the bunkers in the cliff face, but this involves me trespassing on French occupied territory (the harbour wall), so I've not yet worked out how to do it. Till then, here are some pics of the fort guns and buildings.

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