Work begins on £7.5m restoration of Newhaven Fort

Construction workers have arrived on site to begin a milestone restoration project to transform Newhaven Fort, including opening hidden areas never seen by the public before.

The £7.5 million restoration, which is taking place throughout 2024, means the Fort will remain closed to the public until its grand reopening in early 2025.

Pilbeam Construction, the delivery partner for the project, has revealed the timeline of works, starting with a complete restoration of the Fort’s iconic Romney Hut.

The team at the Fort has been busy preparing for works to begin, including in areas that have never been opened previously, such as hidden tunnels which have been assessed ahead of restoration work beginning.

General manager Lindsay Lawrence said: “Since the Fort’s closure to the public and our final school visits, we’ve been working tirelessly to prepare for its transformation, emptying the casemates, removing old exhibits and carefully moving artefacts into safe storage.

“Our collections custodian Frankie and I have been delving into the history of the Fort, Newhaven and Sussex to research stories for our new exhibits.

“It has been a fascinating journey and we’ve uncovered many secrets within the Fort’s walls, including a hidden tunnel revealed in the original 1871 plans.

“Working closely with our design team, we’re creating new exhibits to bring these untold stories to life, with a focus on personal histories to give an insight into ordinary Sussex folk’s lives and experiences.

“We’re so excited to be opening new areas and building brand new interactive experiences and displays. Our aim is to ensure Newhaven Fort is an exciting visitor attraction which Sussex can be proud of.” 

New areas visitors will be able to explore following the Fort’s restoration include its Battery Observation Post, providing a new space to enjoy panoramic views of the Sussex coastline. The Fort’s scenic gun positions will also be reopened after a period of inaccessibility.

As well as essential works to protect the longevity of the Fort, including structural and drainage works, the restoration project will include improving access and signage across the attraction, to maximise the experience for as many people as possible.

Re-cladding and insulating the Romney Hut in the Fort’s parade square will allow for better year-round access, and a second casemate will be refurbished and open for venue hire.

These spaces will be available for weddings, parties, meetings, school groups, community events and more.  

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