Posted: 9 October 2006 11:53

On 24 September, I cycled all the way out to Newhaven to look at the defences there; Newhaven was a strategically important port during the war, and still operates today.

On the way, I went via Bishopstone to look at the pillbox built onto the railway station roof.

Pillbox on Bishopstone Station

The Royal Engineers camouflaged the pillbox by blending it in with the Art Deco brickwork of the station. The sea is only a couple of hundred yards the other side of the station.

Pillbox on Bishopstone Station

Moving out to the western flank, you can see that there's a good command across the beaches and immediate hinterland. The white bridge at right spans the railway line.

View from Bishopstone Station

Standing on the bridge, this is the view of the beach; the pillbox is 2-3 metres higher, and so would have an even better command. Newhaven Harbour is just at the base of the cliffs in the background; on the top of these cliffs are a coast battery and Newhaven Fort.

Cycling round the bay, I arrived at the entrance to Newhaven Fort. The fort was built during the 1860's to bolster the existing defence works there. Although I've been in several times and am long overdue for another visit, I didn't have enough time to have a proper visit and get home before dark.

View from Newhaven Fort

Above the fort entrance is a Type 26 square pillbox; the River Ouse can be seen just above the drawbridge and Bishopstone Station is marked.

Skirting round the fort, the view below is from the west, overlooking the harbour. In the fort can be seen an observation post at left, and a 6-inch gun position; the brick building further down the cliff housed radar equipment.

View from Newhaven Fort

Newhaven Battery

Moving further west, I came across the 3-gun battery, which possibly dates to the early 20th century.

The general disposition of the guns can be seen from the photograph at right which I took during a flight in 2002.

The south-west corner of the fort is visible at bottom right; the brick radar building is at the bottom edge. Down on the beach where the line of cars stretches westwards, there used to be a searchlight for the battery; it was roughly in line with the central gun up on the cliffs.

Newhaven Battery

This is the eastern gun position as seen from the magazine roof. Ammunition lockers can be seen built into the structure. The coastguard station in the background is actually built beside the central gun position; the mast is visible in the photograph taken from Bishopstone.

Newhaven Battery

Steps leading up past a blockhouse to the gun position.

Newhaven Battery

Ramp and steps leading to the central gun position.

Newhaven Battery

The view across the western gun position.

At this point the weather was starting to turn cold, so I decided to make for home. I hope to get in a visit to the fort in future, and I also need to walk the beachland from the harbour to Bishopstone, as several pillboxes were sited there.

- Pete



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Generic term for a hardened field defensive structure usually constructed from concrete and/or masonry. Pillboxes were built in numerous types and variants depending on location and role.

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