Newhaven Fort
April 2016

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Ride Out 10 April 2016

By Bob Melvin

The weather conditions were, shall we say, promising, with a bit of a frost and the threat of sunshine, but still with an early Spring nip in the air.  This was, after all, 10 April and Godders’s much anticipated run from Newlands Corner to Newhaven Fort.  It had been in our diary since its announcement and the weather looked about as good as could be expected for the time of year. We were fortunate in having the ride to the meet, through the Surrey Hills AONB, sweeping through the wood bordered bends and over the hills at Winterfold.

The meeting point was, as always, busy with other bikers and, the curse of the area since the 2012 Olympics, the Lyrca clad brigade. After a short social catch-up we were on the road.  This was mine and Susan’s first experience of the formalised, ‘drop-off’ riding practice and we soon took the idea on board, joining in at each junction to ensure the consistency of the ride.  Godfrey took the lead throughout using his trusty Tom Tom with ‘Interesting Route’ setting applied. He took us through the beautiful Surrey and Sussex lanes with rarely an error.  Some of the road conditions were a little suspect with everyone, discreetly, acknowledging the occasional jink between tyre and road!

We arrived at Newhaven Fort, parking in the metalled carpark without side-stand incident, before negotiating the entrance and fee. Newhaven Fort was constructed, like a lot of the South Coast defences of the mid 19th Century, in a piecemeal fashion, responding the perceived threats of the period, principally from the French and their allies and generally too late to have any significance. The battery’s defences were updated in response to the events unfolding during the First World War and, again, for the Second World War.  Latterly, the Fort was ear-marked for a housing development before being saved as a museum.

When we visited, we were treated to excellent catering facilities in a restored, notionally transportable, building, before touring the site. We enjoyed various presentations about the history of the Fort including, a presentation theatre, an air raid experience, and a display of artefacts retrieved from war-time wrecks on the nearby seabed recovered by Tunbridge Wells Sub Aqua Club.  The visit was capped by wartime reenactors, representing WWII Brits and Germans, including a high ranking German officer strutting around with a distinctly, South London accent. If you think Dads’ Army meets The Eagle Has Landed, that was about it!

We had a very enjoyable ride out and thanks must be extended to Godfrey Potter for organising the event.

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Dads’ Army meets The Eagle Has Landed
View from the battlements - bike park
View from the battlements - across the fort