Eastbourne’s Redoubt Fortress has mounted a 68-pounder cannon onto a bespoke oak carriage, sitting at the bottom of the fortress’s glacis, as part of the Coastal Revival Fund project in which the 200 year old iconic seafront building received a £47,800 grant to improve public spaces around the outside of the fortress.
The oak carriage which is a replica of the carriages which would have been used at the Redoubt around 150 years ago, was delivered from Cornwall on Friday morning (8 April) and put in place on the grassed glacis, before the cannon weighing 4.8 tonnes was crane-lifted and mounted in position.
The Redoubt is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and with permission from Historic England, the concrete area in front of the fortress which previously housed a military centurion tank, underwent an archaeological investigation in February, before being completely filled in and restored back to the way it looked in the 1800’s in preparation for the mounting of the cannon.
The cannon has been sitting unmounted on the Redoubt’s glacis since the 1970’s, and is thought to be one of two smooth bore muzzle loading 68 pounder cannons mentioned in the War Office inventory of the Redoubt in 1887.
Later in the year the Coastal Revival Fund project will see the installation of an interactive sculpture designed from restored seafront groynes, making for an engaging representation of Eastbourne’s coastal history and providing a platform for imaginative play for younger visitors, plus the addition of interpretation boards telling the wider story of the Eastbourne and Sussex coastline.
Eastbourne Borough Council Lead Cabinet Member for Culture, Tourism and Enterprise, Cllr Margaret Bannister said “Mounting the cannon was quite a difficult task, it is extremely heavy and it really is astonishing to think that a 68-pounder cannon would once have been lifted by completely different means, with significantly less machine-power, in both the Napoleonic and Victorian eras. Standing on the fortress’s grass glacis, the cannon and oak carriage look extremely striking and really help to bring the Redoubt’s historical charm to the seafront, enticing even more visitors into the fortress grounds and museum.”
The Coastal Revival Fund project is designed to improve the façade of the Redoubt Fortress into a welcoming visitor attraction and celebrate the town’s long and varied maritime heritage, whilst providing a gateway to the eastern end of the seafront, increasing footfall to the area, just as the South Downs Way opens up visitor footfall to Eastbourne’s western seafront.
It comes at an already exciting time of ambitious planning to return the Redoubt back to a living museum in keeping with its Napoleonic and Victorian heyday, while a brand new adjoining museum from 2018 will tell the story of Eastbourne from pre-historic times to modern day and beyond.
For more information and to keep up to date with Coastal Revival Fund, Redoubt and museum developments, go to www.EastbourneMuseums.co.uk.