Conservation group dreams up big idea to mark World War I in Newhaven

The giant poppy at Newhaven Fort.
The giant poppy at Newhaven Fort.

A giant poppy measuring five metres was put up at Newhaven Fort as a tribute to the people who died during World War I.

It was built by three members of the Newhaven Castle Hill Conservation Group and also commemorates the 100th anniversary of the war.

The big idea was dreamt up by Castle Hill Group chairman Graham Amy.

Graham said: “The Castle Hill members wanted to pay their respects to the thousands of soldiers who left our harbour for the Western Front.

“For many of those brave men, the cliffs of the Fort and Castle Hill would have been their very last glimpse of England.

“The poppy is our tribute to the fallen and we are hoping that it will attract more visitors to the Fort and our award-winning Castle Hill Nature Reserve.”

Mr Amy thanked the staff at the Fort who not only welcomed the plan but loaned equipment, helped prepare the ground and assemble the structure.

The poppy was designed by retired architects Neil Squires from Eastbourne and Terry Farmer from Seaford who have been members of the group since it started 15 years ago.

Terry said: “We wanted the poppy to be visible from Newhaven Swing Bridge so it had to be as large as possible.

“It was so heavy that we had to assemble it in four sections and then bolt it together on the grassy slope near the entrance to the Fort.”

The Castle Hill Group also plan to build another poppy to go on the seaward side of the Fort.

This will give visitors arriving on the ferry and those visiting West Beach an opportunity to see a giant poppy.

The group were hoping to build, paint and put up the next poppy ready for the 100th anniversary of the start of the 1st World War on July 28.

Mr Amy said: “We were going to grow poppies for the event but that was a bit hit and miss, so we hope that our giant poppies will last for four years, the duration of the war.”

The materials for the poppy were paid for from the Castle Hill Group’s funds which are raised from donations and collections from their guided walks.

The Castle Hill Group, maintain the area next to the Fort at Newhaven, cutting scrub, repairing steps, clearing litter and keeping records of the flora and fauna there.

The group meet on the first Sunday of every month at the Fort’s top visitors’ car park at 10am until approximately 12pm.

Membership is free and open to all ages and abilities.