Wednesday, 30 October 2013

About Newhaven

Newhaven is on the coast about 10 miles east of Brighton. Find the Harbourside Inn overlooking Newhaven Harbour on the west bank of the Ouse.

In Newhaven most people head for the ferry terminal, eager to get over to Dieppe or Le Havre and the continental delights of France. This is a shame as this little town has much to interest the visitor. The place did not even exist until a great storm lashed the Sussex coast in 1579 caused the Ouse to flood. When the waters went down, the locals found that the river had changed its course just south of Southease. Instead of flowing into the sea at Seaford, it did so at Newhaven. The old port at Seaford was promptly abandoned and the “new haven” built here instead.

The little port in the mouth of the Ouse was for generations used by local fishermen and by small coasting craft docking here to transfer goods to barges to go up the Ouse to the Weald. Then, in 1847, a new quay was built that was capable of accommodating the new-fangled paddle steamers that were then just entering service. The ferry service to Dieppe was one of the world's first regular steam ferries and proved to be immediately and lastingly popular. Soon afterwards a railway line was built to Newhaven from London to serve the ferry.

The Ouse Valley was attractive not only to trading barges and holiday makers, but also to the military. The way the valley cuts through the South Downs made it an obvious invasion route for any hostile power that wanted to get inland quickly and efficiently. In 1860 the most likely aggressor was France, and the British government decided to take no chances. A massive artillery fort was constructed on the headland just west of the mouth of the Ouse. The fort was surrounded by impressive earthworks and contained barracks, magazines and a parade ground. Most of this is still there and can be reached by continuing down the lane on which the pub stands and that passes the marina.

Adjacent to Fort Newhaven is the Castle Hill Coastal Park. If you are feeling energetic, and can spare the time, the park is a lovely place for a stroll, especially in summer when wild flowers dot the chalkland grass. The place offers stunning views along the coast to both east and west.

from "Teashop Drives in Sussex" by Rupert Matthews

Buy your copy at Amazon or a bookshop

If there are two marvellous things about England that can be found nowhere else on earth, they are pubs and tearooms. Both types have their fans but together they sum up so much about England that is special and unique. And Sussex had some of the finest in the kingdom. With seventeen drives designed to start with a light lunch, then afterwards, a leisurely drive through the beautifiul Sussex countryside. Finally stopping off for afternoon tea. What better way to spend an afternoon!

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