Our first Newhaven Fort event was held in September 2016. We usually run investigations at this venue with three teams covering four locations with various experiments, including down the spooky Caponier area…. a long trip down (70 steps)! Newhaven Fort is reputedly haunted and we have had the chance to verify this statement, but don’t forget to visit the fort at daytime as well as it is open to the public and makes a brilliant day out for the whole family (details available here: http://www.newhavenfort.org.uk/ ).
There are numerous reports from visitors to the Fort, when walking into the main tunnels, of being pushed, seeing dark figures slipping into the shadows and multiple orbs have been caught on the security cameras and monitoring systems, other reports include sounds and smells, people have reported the noises of chains clinking. Some believe it is the ghost of a woman called Martha who committed suicide at the fort. Other occurrences happen in the magazines and laboratory.
The forts numerous exhibitions are also a hot bed of activity. People have reported hearing the sounds of footsteps and shuffling, moans of suffering have also been heard and reported on numerous occasions
Source Haunted Island
By the late 1850s Napoleon the Third, nephew of Bonaparte, was building up his navy and strengthening his coastal defences, causing the British government, under Prime Minister Lord Palmerston, to perceive a threat invasion by the French. In response, a massive programme of defence was started. Newhaven Fort was one of seventy-two coastal forts to be built, at a total cost of twelve million pounds.
Designed by twenty two year old Lieutenant John Charles Ardagh of the Royal Engineers, construction of Newhaven Fort was started in 1862 and took ten years and six million bricks to complete. There were several novel design features; the first mass use of concrete in a military fortification, a new type of drawbridge and the fact that it was built into the contours of the land, rather than being built above ground like a traditional fort or castle.
At the end of the 19th Century the Fort needed updating and was practically rebuilt. New modern guns were installed and amongst other things, baths were installed for the soldiers. No more excuses! When the First World War broke out the harbour assumed even greater importance, shipping six million tons of supplies to France and the Fort became part of a larger network of defences that included gunboats, thousands of soldiers and a seaplane base in Seaford Bay.
When war broke out again in 1939, Newhaven Fort was a vital element in the defence against the very real threat of German invasion. A coastal radar site was built just outside of the Fort, linked to a large underground naval communication centre nearby. In the harbour were gunboats, minesweepers, and boats of the RAF Air Sea Rescue. It was the latter who used part of the Fort as a rest area and painted murals on the walls of the Counterscarp galleries to remind them of warmer climes. Thousands of soldiers were stationed in the area, including many Canadians who took part in the ill-fated Dieppe Raid from Newhaven. Troops also set out here for the Normandy landings of 1944.
A new gun battery was built on Castle Hill in 1943 and these guns replaced those in the Fort. Post war, the last unit to be stationed here were the Ukrainians of a Battle Area Clearance Unit, tasked with the removal of mines and unexploded ordnance from beaches and the surrounding areas. When Coastal Artillery was disbanded in 1956 all the guns at Newhaven were taken away and scrapped.
In 1962, the Fort was sold to the local council. Houses were built on the Eastern Gun Battery and a leisure centre was planned. This work all but destroyed much of the Fort and when the project fell through the fort became derelict. Fortunately, in 1979 it was declared an ancient monument and a private developer took the Fort on, restored it, and for four years ran it as a tourist attraction before going out of business.
In 1988 Lewes District Council took opened Newhaven Fort as a military tourist attraction and in May 2015 management of the Fort was taken on by Wave Leisure Trust Ltd. Information from Newhaven Fort.Org