Newhaven Fort re-opens to celebrate its 150th year with £1.2m of improvements

Newhaven Fort opens its doors again on Saturday (June 19) following an extensive £1.2m improvement programme during its initial closure due to Covid restrictions. 

Lewes District Council has replaced the entrance bridge to the historic fort at a cost of £350,000. 

Meanwhile, Wave Leisure Trust which manages the attraction, has launched a range of exciting new exhibitions funded by a £850,000 grant from the governments Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s Cultural Recovery Fund as part of #HereForCulture campaign. 

Exhibitions which have benefitted from the funding include the theatre, which now features an impressive 6m wide screen showcasing a film to introduce the history of the fort, as well as new exhibitions ‘Life in the Fort’, ‘History of the Fort’ and ‘The Hidden Fort’ . 

The brand-new exhibitions include, ‘History of the Fort’, has been installed to include an audio-visual show using the voice of the Forts designer, Lieutenant J.C. Ardagh guiding visitors through the planning and design of the Fort, using a projector over the centrepiece model to create a 3D animation. Displays have been refreshed, including new objects and artefacts to educate visitors about the social history of life linked to the Fort over the past 150 years. In addition is now a video tour of the ‘The Hidden Fort’ providing an opportunity for visitors to experience the tunnels of the fort no longer accessible to all.

The Fort now offers new visitor facilities to contribute towards a safe and enjoyable visit, to include a refreshed play area for children, prebooked ticketing, improvements to the activity centre for improved school visits and The Tearoom has been re-designed to reflect a 1940s British Restaurant.

Duncan Kerr, CEO at Wave Leisure Trust, said: “We can’t wait to open our doors again. This year we’re celebrating the Fort’s 150th year – a remarkable event and one that we’ll be celebrating with visitors new and old.

“The next exhibitions really do take our historic attraction to the next level and we are grateful to have had the opportunity thanks to the Cultural Recovery Fund to improve the experience for our visitors. Get your tickets now, we can’t wait to see you.”

Councillor Ruth O’Keeffe, Cabinet member for Tourism and Devolution, said: “I am delighted the fort, which plays a very important role in our district’s heritage, is back open again for local people and tourists alike to enjoy. 

“We decided to make a substantial investment to replace the bridge, rather than keep on making temporary repairs, such is the value we place on keeping the fort open for future generations.” 

Councillor James MacCleary, Leader of Lewes District Council and local councillor for Newhaven South, said: “It is fantastic to see the culmination of the major works that have been taking place at the fort while it has been closed. 

“This is yet another triumph for Newhaven, building on the success of our Future High Streets Fund bid to transform the town, the upcoming opening of our new riverside venue at Railway Quay, as well as news on our multi-million Town Fund bid.

“Living a short walk from the fort, I’ll be visiting with the family soon.”