I’m sure after my slew of “Digital Diaries” posts earlier this year you’ve all realised what this series is about by now. Basically when I’m desperate to show everyone a place I’ve been to but don’t know when I’m going to get the actual 35mm photographs back, I make a quick post with snapshots taken with a not-so-good-but-half-decent compact camera I carry with me everywhere (for this explicit purpose).
We were blessed with a very bright and sunny day this Tuesday when leaving from Brighton for Newhaven. We had the opportunity to visit Newhaven Fort for a day of exploring and brainstorming, guided by the amazing staff (spearheaded by Ed, who knew every possible detail about the fort and the weaponry and people it once housed), academics, and the CEO of Wave Leisure. As students, we were simply meant to observe and listen, but I at least found myself captivated by the amazing beauty and potential of this location and ended up chiming in (loudly and fairly obnoxiously) in the later brainstorming session at the end of the day.
A bit of information about Newhaven Fort: it was commissioned in 1862 and construction began in 1864. It was built on grounds of fear of a possible French invasion… which never happened. It was, however, heavily armed and useful during WWI and WWII as its location on one of the southernmost parts of the English coastline was of great importance in case of a possible invasion via occupied France.
The most interesting part of Newhaven Fort to me, however, is its architecture. First, it was designed by at-the-time 22 year old Lieutenant John Charles Ardagh. I’m 24 and I’m already proud I can do graphic design! As a result of his youth compared to other military architects of his time, while the look of the fort is decidedly Victorian – arched doorways and brick walls, it’s actually far more modern in concept.
Behind the bricks, walls are made of concrete – saying that the use of concrete as a building material in 1864 would be consider avant-garde is downplaying how innovative this was. Not only that, but you cannot see the fort from the outside, as its entire structure is built into the hillside, behind completely hidden. This made it an amazing defensive structure as any troops invading from the seaside could never even expect there to be any sort of defence awaiting them! I found this absolutely ingenious. Again, 22 years old; I’m sticking with InDesign and Photoshop…
Before I leave you with the pictures, let me just point out: the tunnel system inside the fort is insane. There are tunnels leading to tunnels leading to tunnels. You can go from the beach to the highest point of the hill via underground staircases and the acoustics in this place are fantastic. The possibilities for a location like this are endless and all I could think of was closing it down for a “Zombie Survival” night.
Scroll down for all the pictures (mostly tunnels because we all know how much I like my corridors, doors, staircases and such by now) and some links to Newhaven Fort on social media and Wave Leisure, who are managing the fort.