Exhibition focuses on Shoreham Fort history

Volunteer Gerald Garforth admiring the Shoreham Fort exhipition at Marlipins Museum. S31150H11
Volunteer Gerald Garforth admiring the Shoreham Fort exhipition at Marlipins Museum. S31150H11

FROM the volunteers who manned it in 1857, to the volunteers who spend their weekends bringing it back to its former glory, the living history of Shoreham Fort is on display.

An exhibition at the Marlipins Museum, in Shoreham High Street, features reams of historical research, including photographs, documents and news articles.

The display is open to the public now.

Speaking on behalf of the museum, Liza McKinney said: “The fort, on Shoreham Beach, was built in 1857 under the direction of British prime minister Lord Palmerston as a deterrent to an attack.

A great deal of it remains above ground.

“Originally fitted with six, static cannon guns, it was manned by more than 100 volunteers.”

In the early 1900s, the fort took on a new, Hollywood-esque guise, when Francis Lyndhurst built a huge glass film studio where the Church of the Good Shepherd stands today.

Gary Baines, founder of The Friends of Shoreham Fort, said: “It was said he chose the location of Shoreham because it had pure, smog-free air and the quality of light was clearer than in London.

“The first film made by Sealite (Lyndhurst’s company) starred a music hall star, and Shoreham Beach resident, Will Evans, and was called The Showman’s Dream.

“It was filmed [pictured below] at Shoreham Fort, by erecting a canvas backdrop on the west side of the barracks’ front point, just offset from the fort entrance, in 1914.”

Gary and a small band of volunteers are working to restore the fort.

Thanks to grants totalling £53,000, from English Heritage and Shoreham Port Authority, they are making amazing progress.

Liza added: “The fort is now being cared for, and when money allows, restored by Gary and the Friends of Shoreham Fort.

“They are working so hard, but need help and a lot of support.”

The exhibition runs until September 10. The Marlipins Museum is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10.30am to 4.30pm.