Wednesday, June 03, 2009
The Eastbourne Redoubt
Summer is the time for going to the seaside and strolling along the prom, and a few weeks ago at Eastbourne I did just that, and was rewarded with a wonderful dsicovery.
Eastbourne is more generally associated with the Edwardian era than the Napoleonic wars, but it does have the most amazing redoubt, now restored to its early 19th century glory.
In the early 1800's the fear of a French invasion of Britain was very real. Napoleon moved troops to Boulogne and planned to ferry them across to the south coast. In response the British Government built over 70 Martello Towers plus three circular fortresses at Harwich, Dymchurch and Eastbourne.
In 1805, Nelson's victory at Trafalgar lessened the threat but plans had been laid and work began on the Eastbourne Redoubt, which took three years to build and only ever fired two shots in anger (at a French ship which strayed too close to the shore – the shots missed).
The Redoubt was used as an observation post and convalescent hospital during WWI and during WWII anti-aircraft guns were mounted on the gun platform. It is now a military museum and houses the regimental museums of The Royal Sussex Regiment and the Queen's Royal Irish Hussars.
Ironically, the Redoubt, which was built to defend the south coast, is now itself defended from the sea by the promenade, but I am so glad it has survived.
Melinda Hammond / Sarah Mallory