Mission to rescue Littlehampton Fort revitalised after years of work were halted by Covid

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​​Volunteers are embarking on a major project to rescue the historically significant Littlehampton Fort, working alongside owner Littlehampton Golf Club.

After a number of years of hard work, the Littlehampton Fort Restoration Project was halted by Covid but the team is now ready to restart the mission and a call has gone out for support.

Andy Orpin, project manager and chairman, said: "This pioneering Palmerston fort, constructed in 1854, played a pivotal role in shaping our history. Now, with the support of a dedicated team of volunteers, we aim to breathe new life into this overgrown relic, ensuring its legacy for generations to come."

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Andy spearheaded the project and he has made it his mission to rescue the fort and preserve its heritage.

Littlehampton Fort Restoration Project volunteers working on clearing the vegetationLittlehampton Fort Restoration Project volunteers working on clearing the vegetation
Littlehampton Fort Restoration Project volunteers working on clearing the vegetation

Andy said: "I am so pleased that we can once again commence work at the fort to save what remains. We made a great start in 2014 but then were stopped in our tracks with the Covid-19 epidemic and we now want to relaunch once again and continue our fantastic work.

"The golf club have been fantastic in supporting us over the years and we welcome this renewed support in moving forward with the restoration work and plans.

The club shares our commitment. As the only links golf course in the region, and the only golf club in the England to have a Napoleonic fort as part of its course, the club understands the value of history and tradition.

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"Today, we proudly announce a strategic partnership between the Littlehampton Fort Restoration Project and the Littlehampton Golf Club in saving a historical fortification that protected us when we needed it."

Littlehampton Fort Restoration Project chairman Andy OrpinLittlehampton Fort Restoration Project chairman Andy Orpin
Littlehampton Fort Restoration Project chairman Andy Orpin

Together, they envision the fort standing as a testament to resilience and community spirit. The restoration project will benefit from the golf club’s expertise, resources and passion for safeguarding their shared past.

Andy Clarke, Littlehampton Golf Club chair, said: "Littlehampton Fort has been an integral part of our links since the golf club’s inception in 1889 and we are delighted to partner with this project to preserve this unique piece of history for all concerned.”

Whether you are a golf enthusiast, history buff, or simply someone who believes in preserving our past, there is a place for you. Become a fort volunteer, contribute to fundraising or just be a fort fan and supporter to ensure Littlehampton’s legacy endures.

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For more information, visit the Littlehampton Fort Restoration Project website or telephone Andy Orpin on 07918 593578.

A mound of ivy was hiding the gun emplacementsA mound of ivy was hiding the gun emplacements
A mound of ivy was hiding the gun emplacements

The fort is adjacent to the second tee and the club is keen to assist in any way it can. A number of members have already shown an interest in getting involved and helping out.

The fort was built to defend Littlehampton from the threat of invasion. French forces never arrived to put the coastal fort in jeopardy but the military monument to the past was instead overwhelmed by brambles, ivy and wind-blown sand after it was abandoned.

Visible only as a mound bordering the sand dunes at the western entrance of the River Arun, the fort was cleared in 2014 as part of a two-year conservation scheme.

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It had long been Andy's dream to reveal once more this important part of the town’s heritage and see what lay under the mass of ivy and brambles, as part of the fort was demolished in 1954.

Littlehampton Fort Restoration Project volunteers hard at workLittlehampton Fort Restoration Project volunteers hard at work
Littlehampton Fort Restoration Project volunteers hard at work

He started looking at the fort back in 2009, when his dad died. He would head to the area to think and often looked across at the visible brickwork. He started the project to bring it back to life.

An historic agreement was signed at the golf club in November 2015, giving the go-ahead for restoration work by the volunteers, including removing sand and ivy covering the walls.

There have been more than 140 volunteers working the project. The Carnot walls and bastions are all still there and the gun emplacements and backing retaining walls also still exist.