Of the many small forts and gun batteries built along the coast of Southern England during the past few centuries only two survive in anything like there original form, Littlehampton fort, completed in September 1854 (now largely covered by the sand dunes) and Shoreham fort, also know as Kingston Redoubt, completed in June 1857, both of which are in West Sussex.

Both these forts are especially important examples as they were built as experimental fortification, using what is known as a Carnot Wall. These were built directly after the introduction of the 'rifled' gun barrels on the continent, rifled barrels were an invention of the mid-nineteenth century with the aim and succession of increasing the range of heavy guns, they are also a form of fort from the nineteenth century not exhibited in the near contemporary, but slightly later in the forts protecting Portsmouth Harbour, in Hampshire.

After several centuries of the harbour at Shoreham being classed as insignificant it increased in importance as that of the neighbouring Sussex ports declined. The defenceless state of Shoreham harbour was of small concern until well into the nineteenth century. In fact there were several reasons for this. The mouth of the river Adur was shifting eastwards due to it silting up. In 1810 the mouth was situated almost opposite Aldrington church, close to the Hove border. An army could be found in other places around Sussex, where it was said to be more convenient for an invasion army to disembark, being closer to the French coast and further away from the army detachments encamped, usually in Brighton. For many years Brighton was considered as being a premier military station. The social life in Shoreham town was attractive to the officers, so regular manoeuvres were held on the, nearby, south downs, usually annually.

One good example of why there should have been defences and why, probably, the fort was built is confirmed by an incident in 1628. Some French ships navigated their way into Shoreham harbour, whilst in the harbour they managed to capture a small craft. Without any sort of defence at the time, the attack caused great alarm and commotion and men were despatched to Brighton to fetch ordinance, fearful of any further raids. It seems there was, at the time, no artillery nearer than Brighton, which I feel proves the need and reasoning for building the fort, it also explains why the south coast was defended so well, having forts and gun batteries built at regular intervals.

During tensions in the Napoleonic period, new batteries were built at Bognor, Selsey and other previously unfortified places. But still Shoreham was left defenceless and no special preparations were thought necessary to build defences at that time, although in 1801 500 troops were deployed to defend or even destroy, if required, the Adur Bridge, then situated much further up river near the Sussex Pad Inn

The newly constructed harbour entrance, as it was then, was the selected site for Shoreham Fort, just on the wide spit of shingle immediately to the west. This was so that the guns could defend and command the harbour entrance and its approaches.

In June 1857 the fort was completed and details of cost, armament and accommodation are given in a record drawing of Shoreham Redoubt, drawn from some old plans and measurements by W. Mumford, of The Royal Engineers, on the 1st September, 1886. The estimated cost was £10,000 and the actual cost was £11,685.10s.0d. An anonymous note in Brighton reference library (Box 24) gives the builder Messrs. Smith of Woolwich, but the source of this information is still unclear.

The fort was designed to position six muzzle-loaded guns with rifled barrels but the survey drawing records only five mounted at the time: 64-pounders on emplacements I, II, and VI and 80-pounders on emplacements III and IV. The underground magazines were each designed to take 126 barrels of gunpowder and the water tanks carried 11,578 gallons.

The fort was built to accommodate two Officers, one Master Gunner and 35 NCO's and Privates all housed in the barracks.

The ground plan was in the shape of a lunette, or a rectangular half-moon, similar to the fort at Littlehampton, with earthen ramparts on which the guns were mounted, and at the rear was a defensible barrack block. The fort was surrounded at the front and sides by a ditch which carried a carnot wall along the bottom. Shoreham is the earliest example of a fort with a Carnot wall still reasonably intact in the UK.

At the three corners are the covered bastions, or caponiers/caponierres, which can be entered from the inside of the fort, allowing defenders to fire along the outside of the Carnot wall whilst still being under cover. These represent a development from the open bastions built a few years earlier at Littlehampton.

Buried beneath the two ends of the ramparts were the two magazines, one of which is now incorporated into a coastguard tower. These comprised stores and shifting rooms where the shells and cartridges were loaded. Piles of iron shot were placed by each gun and shell recesses or expense magazines, where small supplies of ammunition were maintained, lay adjacent. There were no hoists, and shells were carried to the guns by hand, probably by making use either of the steps alongside and above the expense magazines or the ramp.

The guns, mounted on the gun platform or terreplein, fired over a low protective wall. The wooden gun carriage recoiled up an inclined plane on a traversing wooden platform carried on iron rails. Each gun was manned by at least seven men and was manoeuvred using wedges, levels and block and tackle. the Gunnery Officers could supervise operations from the steps placed between the gun emplacements, which could also be mounted infantry to fire muskets at enemy troops approaching on foot from the beach.

The Barrack Block accommodated officers and men and, with its rifle slits, formed part of the fort defences. A central area served as a parade ground and beneath this were two tanks which, if needed, could supply the fort with water in time of attack. The water tanks approximately carried 11,578 gallons of water.

During the latter part of the nineteenth century it was proposed that the fort should be remodelled although this work never happened the fort was still manned by the volunteers until at least 1896, So the fort was manned for the short period of roughly 36 years

In the Second World War a battery of six-inch guns was erected on the fort, but these have since been removed and only part of the footings survive, It may have been at this stage, or even earlier, when the gun emplacements I, III and VI were modified by the lowering of the walls over which the guns fired. There was also a searchlight tower constructed on the western side of the fort, which still survives today. The Barrack Block was variously used as a film studio and private dwelling before being demolished in about 1960.

This Fort history was taken from: www.shorehamfort.co.uk/page/History with thanks to Gary Baines: There are links to further information and photos on there website, including a link to donate for restoration and upkeep of the Fort.
Gary and his team of volenteers have done an amazing job in bringing this part of Shorehams history back to life, I would highly recommend going down for a guided tour.