Shoreham Fort

Sorry it’s been so long…

In this newsletter:

What a year 2020 has been so far...

It may seem that the Friends of Shoreham Fort have totally slipped off the radar and for that we can only apologise. I can promise you that although we may have been quiet in the virtual world we have been EXCEPTIONALLY busy in the real world.

Where do I begin...?

I guess I need to go back to March and our AGM. This seems such a long time ago, way back when the world wasn't so off balance.



AGM – 4th March 2020

Sussex Yacht Club kindly offered us the use of their venue for free, which is always greatly appreciated, and the evening was very well attended. Trevor Povey, local historian, once again enlightening us with his amazing knowledge - this time we learned of 'Shoreham's Maritime & Military Past and its place in history'. No matter how much you think you know about a subject it is guaranteed that Trevor will always come up trumps with new and unseen photos/facts/maps. And I honestly don't know how he retains so much information.

At the AGM we did a small fundraiser involving Smarties. The idea being that in exchange for people eating the Smarties the tube was returned full of 20 pence pieces. There was a fab little poem on the tubes but my brain isn't as good as Trevor's and I can't remember what I wrote...

Those with a tube will recall that we were asking for the full tubes to be returned to us on or by our Easter Sunday Funday, which should have been 4th April...hopefully everyone has kept them safe for us.



Last volunteer day – 22nd March 2020

With things seeming relatively 'normal' at our AGM it wasn't long before we realised that there were big things about to happen.

On 22nd March we took the decision to have just 4 volunteers on site. We weren't actually in lock down yet but we didn't want to make the site too busy or engage with the public. The volunteers were literally there to have a thorough clean up of the area and ensure that the site was left in as good a condition as we could possibly leave it, as we knew things were set to change. The volunteers worked hard all morning but the site got too busy in the afternoon so they packed up early and went home - Not knowing that it would be the last day on site for many months to come.

The intention wasn't to leave site that day and not return. We had intended to wait and see what the government announced and take it one volunteer day at a time. One person's pointed comments, made on good ole social media, and the newly announced government guidelines meant that we needed to stay away from site.

We took the opportunity to have a complete break from looking after the scheduled monument, used the time to recharge our batteries and some of us focussed on the mountainous paperwork that never ceases to accumulate.


Gary even took the opportunity to try and tackle his archive and get that in to some sort of order and I have to say he's doing very well with it too. He and Trevor Povey have also been using the time to extensively research gaps in Shoreham Fort's history and also the surrounding areas, which are of great significance.

We hoped that our absence from site would reiterate to some that without the volunteers, giving up their time, the area would once again turn into the less than desirable venue it used to be. As expected the antisocial behaviour, on site and in the attached council car park, escalated. People ignoring the lock down were using the site for drinking and drug taking and the damage to the fabric of the fort increased. We even had people camping in the ditch at one point...

All we could do was rely on others to call the police and report all the incidences in our absence. It really wasn't any good people contacting us and asking us to deal with it, as we weren't on site and hadn't witnessed anything first hand. Thankfully we do have a few very good neighbours who do keep an eye on things and who are very proactive in trying to resolve issues and for that we are extremely grateful.

sussex police


Missed Events

With the government locking down the country it became obvious very early on that we would not be having many, if any, of our fundraising events throughout the year.

Easter Sunday Funday was a definite no go and, as time went on, we realised that our biggest event of the year, Military History Weekend, would not be happening either. The event takes months of planning so the decision to cancel the event wasn't one we could go back on, even if the situation changed with regards to regulations and guidelines.

Cancelling our annual events has obviously had a massive impact on the charity as both of these events bring in much needed funds to enable the continued maintenance and conservation of the site. Add to that the cancellation of all our volunteers days, meaning our tea hut wasn't open, and the cancellation of all our outreach work, in the form of presentations and tours, it means that zero funds have gone in to the pot this year.

Like many charities we are really going to notice a massive difference when we do our finances at the end of November, our year end.

One positive thing to come from all this though is that we have been able to help Shoreham Foodbank. Shoreham Foodbank is an amazing organisation run by volunteers. Sadly, due to the current situation, their services have been called upon by a hugely increased number of people in need. With our events cancelled all our stock of drinks etc was sitting on site with a risk of going out of date. I took a leaf out of our friends of at Dover Western Heights' book and donated all our soft drinks, crisps, biscuits, water and sweets to the foodbank, knowing that someone in need would benefit and the items would not be wasted. An organisation called The Purple People Kitchen benefited from the items donated too.

Added to the two cancelled events above, we have been unable to take part in Heritage Open Days this year, first time in 8 years I believe, and we are not sure whether we will be able to run our Remembrance Evening this year either. We will keep people updated via Facebook etc but I'm personally thinking that this year will end with all events for 2020 being cancelled and that we will hopefully start again next year with renewed enthusiasm and, assuming Government Guidelines allow, we will be restarting our fortnightly Sunday free tours in March 2021.



That mountain of paperwork...

We don't generally make a fuss about the paperwork side of things but sometimes it helps people to realise how much actually goes on 'behind the scenes' to enable the charity to run.

As a charity there is always paperwork that needs completing whether it be correspondence with supporters, dealing with bookings for talks or tours, dealing with research enquiries, the accounts, reports to the Charity's Commission or funding bids and proposals - to name a few. BUT being a charity that is responsible for a Scheduled Monument, it means the paperwork is even worse - it honestly is never ending.

Anything that we do on site has to first be assessed by Historic England, they then send their recommendations to the Secretary of State for approval. This process is called a Scheduled Monument Consent (SMC) and this includes an application form, a heritage significance report and, more often than not, a method statement of the works to be undertaken. As you can appreciate, all this takes an enormous amount of time and effort and isn't a quick process. Being a Scheduled Monument means that the site is protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act of 1979.

Other paperwork that we have been dealing with: Remember that £50,000 funding that we received from the government, via the local authority, in December 2015? This funding was vital to enable the charity to progress, without this there wouldn't be a forward plan or a project worth fighting for.

IMG_8983 1

This was a project that should have taken 6 months to complete. In reality it actually took years and we're not going to lie, it was an utterly hideous process made all the more difficult by lack of cohesive communication and utter lack of knowledge from others. The process was finally completed, after much chasing and correcting of inaccurate documents by us, but a council officer omitted to tell us that the documents had arrived. We discovered this in November 2019 and apparently the documents had been in the council offices in Pond Road since June... If you include our time given to the application process for this funding, then there has been over 4 years of our time, given voluntarily to the project. Other's involved seemed to forget that as they took their pay cheques home each month and allowed us to do their work for them.

During this same time we were also dealing with the Car Park at Shoreham Fort. The endless meetings and correspondence with the Environment Agency and their 'Landscape Architects' from London, who had never set foot on the site, was soul destroying. Again I think we can safely say that some of us gave up over 3.5 years, of our volunteer time, in dealing with this fiasco. The most horrifying situation came on the day that the workers started digging up the car park, without the watching brief that we had been advised would happen. Gary has been researching Shoreham Fort for the best part of 26 years now and when he says there is significant WWII archaeology on site then he needs to be listened to. To cut a VERY long story short we did manage to stop the dig that first day and the County Archaeologist did come back down the next day. Unfortunately it was too late for a lot of the heritage that was just below the surface. This was through no fault of the workers, who were just doing their job, but the powers that be who didn't carry out their procedures correctly.

IMG_9074 1

We finally got the car park back literally just in time for our Remembrance evening and that should have been the end of it but no, despite being told that they weren't permitted to plant non native or invasive plants, the landscape architects decided that Red Valerian was acceptable. The Friends of Shoreham Beach have been fighting the spread of this non native, invasive plant for a long time now and the Local Authority had to come and remove all the plants from the car park. What an utter waste of time and money.

I'll stop now as these things are over and we have been able to move on but I thought it was important to let you all have a little insight into some of the issues that we have been up against these past few years. We can laugh now but honestly, you couldn't make it up.


And now for our BIG news... – 6th September 2020 ~ 21st September 2020

It seems that this newsletter has been a bit doom and gloomy but that really wasn't the intention.

The main purpose of the newsletter is to share something quite spectacular with you all, before we start to report it via social media and other media outlets.

Lets start at the beginning...

Back in 2014 we were awarded £10,000 from Adur District Council as part of their 'Pot of Gold' funding stream. This money gave us an amazing opportunity to build a Memorial Training Trench. This would be in memory of all those soldiers who trained, in trench building, on the Downs at the back of Shoreham and who never returned. Those soldiers and all the other soldiers, that trained across the South Downs, would be remembered in this unique and hugely significant project.

Adur Pot Of Gold Logo

Fly forwards to 28th February 2019 when we were notified that we had been successful in our Heritage Lottery Fund bid for £9,900 towards the trench project.

Heritage Lottery Fund Logo

Now that we had received the financial backing that we needed to start, we needed to get the planning permission for the build. Shoreham Port Authority, as land owners, applied and due to a couple of objections we needed to get an ecology report for Sussex Wildlife Trust (SWT) to give their support of the project. Unfortunately this report cost the charity nearly £1,000, that wasn't budgeted for, but it was very reassuring to have our extensive knowledge of the area confirmed and to also have it reiterated that what we were creating would in fact provide an amazing habitat for the lizards and also give the native flora and fauna a great base to get established. It was also confirmed that there were in fact no slow worms on the beach area where the build was going to take place. An expensive way of clarifying something we already knew, but necessary all the same. Once the report was approved by SWT the plans for the project went through council with total support in December 2019.

Things started happening (more paperwork lol) and things move forward at a lovely pace, ready for a proposed September start, when the flora and fauna has died back and the wildlife wasn't breeding.

The project was going to be a great community engagement programme for us, we were going to have a special fundraising event where a sandbag could be purchased which would mean names of sponsors would be entered into the memorial book for the project.

If this is something that you would still like to support then please click here.

Final flyer A4

The project was also going to tie in with Heritage Open Days as we were going to be on site every day of the HoD Festival.

Then Covid happened and plans had to rapidly change.

Thankfully we are very fortunate to have a father and son who volunteer with us and the father owns a company called Goldstone Services Ltd. Luckily for us their expertise was just what we needed to actually build the trench structure. They kept our time slot free, got all the quotes we needed for materials etc and all seemed good.

One little hurdle that we needed to get over was (you guessed it - more paperwork) an SMC for the removal of the old 1970's concrete toilet block base, which was built over original 1857 steps. The reason we needed this permission? The broken out concrete and rubble below it was to be used as fill for the Gabion baskets. This permission was received from Historic England on 30th June so we were all systems go. Goldstone Services were behind us, Gabions were ordered, sand, cement and other materials were ordered and the plant that was needed, to enable the job to happen, was booked. On top of that 2,500 traditional hessian sandbags were ordered.

Another little hurdle was the access to the site for the deliveries... As part of the new car park design we had ensured that a gated entrance was incorporated. We just needed to install the gate and move rather a lot of soil. A majority of this was done in the week leading up to the project with some very deep holes being dug for the fixing posts and the last bit came out on the day before the project was starting.



Now we just needed volunteers and when we called they came.

Due to the situation around us it was no longer a case of people could turn up as and when. We needed to know definite numbers and names of people who were going to be on site and when - this was all part of the risk assessment and Covid assessment. With this in place we knew that the project would not only be successful but, most importantly, it would be safe for the teams of volunteers we had and also the staff of Goldstone Services.

On 6th September 2020 Shoreham Fort was totally fenced off from the public. Also a large area on the beach was fenced off to ensure that the build area was safe. The trench was staked out with metals pins and tape. There were times when we honestly thought that we would be returning the funding we had received but, after all this time, it really was going to happen.


On Day 1, 7th September 2020, Goldstone Services arrived, as did the first 10t of sand, first 100 bags of cements and other materials, as well as the plant machinery they'd hired. A skip that had been provided free of charge from Rabbit was delivered on site too. It wasn't only Rabbit who supported us through this project, Edburton gave their support too, and we thank them both.

Then the volunteers for that day arrived and the hard work began.

IMG_0399 IMG_0397 IMG_0400

Each and every day we saw such a huge change from the day before. Each and every day the dream to create a lasting memorial was becoming a reality.

We had put aside two weeks for the project and my goodness everyone put their all into getting the Memorial Trench completed in time.

Day 11, 17th September 2020, was a very significant day. This was the day that the disabled access was laid, enabling those in wheelchairs the opportunity to engage with the trench experience too. We were fully expecting little foxy footprints to be in the set cement when we arrived back on site the next morning but thankfully there was nothing. Mr Foxy did have a little dig about in a couple of sandbags though and has ripped some of the hessian on a few but we'll look at trying to rectify this, when they're all hardened off.


Day 14, 20th September 2020, was another MEGA milestone - the 2,500th sandbag was laid!!! I think it is safe to say that by now our volunteers were losing the plot a little and Princess Sandbag, with her very own Kitkat, was ceremoniously taken in her very own padded wheelbarrow to Gary. Her crown was handed over and Princess Gary laid the sandbag with a huge round of applause from all.


Last bag

On day 15, 21st September 2020, we removed the fencing from around Shoreham Fort, reduced the fenced area around the trench itself (to enable it to settle and set before final landscaping), saw the plant machinery picked up and we packed up and left site.


And if that wasn't enough the tea hut was blitzed, caulked and painted inside and we had solar powered lights installed in the Nissen hut too. Oh, by the way, did we tell you all that our Nissen Hut has been confirmed as the last 'useable' WWI Nissen Hut in the country...? How exciting is that!

Anyway, back to the trench. I guess all that there is left for me to do now is to show you the phenomenal achievement of the Friends of Shoreham Fort and Goldstone Services.

A truly fitting memorial to all of those brave soldiers who never came home...

ACQM1397 CZWL1426 JMTV6535
KUEV2611 PRSX3780 EYBF4582
PAAS9867 VENG5953 CCNK4155

The trustees would like to say a massive thank you to the amazing teams we had working with us on this unique project. We want to thank them for not only their time and dedication in getting the project this far in two weeks but also for their belief that it was possible.

This project was over 2,500 sandbags, 42 tonnes of sand, 294 bags of cement and over 2,000 volunteer hours. It was an intense two weeks, fuelled by amazing cakes and bakes from Mrs Chips, Lovely Lesley and Andy V, doughnuts and cupcakes from Sarah, biscuits from Sophy and amazing bacon butties from Jill and John...

Next year we are hoping that this project will become a huge asset to the schools. With the props made by Northbrook College's props department we really do feel we will be able to offer a unique learning experience. We are not trying to replicate the trenches in France but we do hope that we can offer visitors a small insight in to trenches and their purposes.

Absolutely incredible!



Upcoming events


Want to help?

We're always in need of equipment, tools, and items at the fort... If you're able to help, or have contact with someone who can, then please let us know


There's always plenty of jobs to be done at the Fort, from the heavy duty digging & archaeology, to lighter duties such as weeding, painting, or even just making a cup of tea. Come along and join us at one of our Find out more days, or contact us to find out more.


Do you recognise one of these names? Perhaps a family member or friends family?

  • M. Hunt
  • J. Adams
  • G. A. Dell

Let us know - They might be connected to the 1st Sussex Artillery Volunteers who were based at Shoreham. Any information is greatly appreciated.


Facebook Twitter Youtube