14 January 1955: Fort will be Demolished

Littlehampton Gazette

Friday, 14 January, 1955

Last days of the fort
When the fear of French invasion was beginning to overshadow the south coast at the end of the 18th century, work was started on the red brick fort which guards the entrance to the River Arun.

Work will soon be finishing on the demolition of the building, which has been declared dangerous, and the veil of time will be drawn over the fort that never fulfilled its destiny.

For when rumour swept England of the invasion barges of Napoleon drawn up on the French coast and a fire on The Green such as that seen last November would have started a chain of beacons along our shores, there were no cannons in the fort.

Parts were camouflage
The two ammunition stores, with walls three feet thick and chimney pots as camouflage, were empty. Had foreign ships fired upon the fort there would have been no reply.

In 1857 the guns were mounted and for 30 years the muzzles of the big swivel-mounted cannon commanded the harbour entrance. For in those days, the fort overlooked the sea.

Now sand comes up to the gun slits which look out over the old moat, and the highest point of the fort is below the tops of the dunes to the south.

But no invader menaced and the guns were taken down and the garrison left. By 1914 the buildings were unsuitable for troops.

Secret passageways?
When Hitler’s invasion fleet lay ready, plans were made to sink a barge of concrete in the river mouth if a landing was attempted. The fort was already forgotten and the only “battles” it witnessed were those of the local children.

Two wells have been f by workmen, and the contractor, Mr. R. T. Page, has taken a wrought iron hook to Littlehampton Museum as an item of interest. Rumour has it that there was once a passageway from the fort to the town, and another to the sea.

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