Shoreham Fort recruitment day sets ball rolling for bumper year

MP Tim Loughton and Gary Baines with parts of the nissen hut to be reconstructed at Shoreham Fort S08140H14
MP Tim Loughton and Gary Baines with parts of the nissen hut to be reconstructed at Shoreham Fort S08140H14

SHOREHAM Fort is preparing for a big year ahead, including a new education centre and unique trench to commemorate the first world war.

Family entertainment will be on offer at the fort’s recruitment day on March 16, which is aiming to boost the number of volunteers who help at the site.

During that weekend, a nissen hut will be reconstructed on site, off Fort Haven, to create the new education centre.

East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton was at the fort on Friday to launch the volunteer programme with Friends of Shoreham Fort chairman Gary Baines and secretary Sharon Penfold.

He said: “There is an amazing amount of things going on this year and with Gary now working full-time for the fort, it is really bringing the place to life.

“The nissen hut is going to provide a tremendous education area and having more things going in, like the new trench, will help people to find out more about Shoreham’s heritage, particularly in the year of the first world war.”

Mr Loughton will also be at the recruitment day, which will include a barbecue and soldiers display.

Mr Baines said: “We will be trying to get as many new recruits as possible.

“We have got a core team to construct the 47ft-long nissen hut but we need people to come and help with other things.

“We will have volunteers doing various jobs on the site, so everyone can get an idea of what goes on down here and find out what it is like. There is going to be absolutely loads happening.”

Mrs Penfold explained the only indoor area currently available was the caponier, which is small and damp.

“Last Monday, it was under a foot of water,” she said. “The waves have been coming up and over, pouring through the windows. The walls were just soaked but they are starting to dry out now.”

The hut, which is being donated by Tim and Sarah Bird, was used by Canadian soldiers manning anti-aircraft guns in Chidham, near Chichester.

Once it is constructed, eco benches will be put inside, to be used for school groups, seating 45 people.

Mr Baines said: “It will be a really good education centre and something that is sorely needed at this end of the beach. Several groups have already come forward who want to use it, which would generate an income for us.

“This is going to be such a big asset, so all the hard work we put in now will pay off for everybody.”

The big launch will be on Easter Sunday, April 20, along with new tourist information boards, paid for from an Adur Pot of Gold grant.

Mr Baines said: “It will be a big show on what Shoreham has done for us and what we are now giving back to the town.”

Later in the year, work will begin on digging out a world war one style trench.

“It will be only trench system like it, as it will slope down gently and wide enough for a wheelchair, so it will be accessible to all,” explained Mr Baines.

“It will be a permanent feature and children will be able to get the effect of the gun placement.”