Origins of the Redoubt Fortress
Built to defend England during the Napoleonic Wars over 200 years ago, the Redoubt Fortress was in use by the military right up to the First and Second World Wars.
The military museum also includes a fascinating insight into the wars fought by local regiments, including the Crimean War and more recently the Gulf War.
Over 200 Years of History
REDOUBT FORTRESS 1804 - PRESENT
In 1803, Britain was at war with the French. A revolution had taken place in France and General Napoleon Bonaparte had declared himself ruler and head of their army.
Napoleon had conquered Italy, subdued Austria and was turning his attention towards Britain. He began to prepare barges and ships to carry up to 167,000 soldiers across the Channel.
In 1804 the British government ordered a massive Building programme of defences along the South Coast to protect Britain from this potential invasion, including 103 Martello Towers and three grander, circular fortresses at Eastbourne, Dymchurch and Harwich.
Napoleon is Defeated
In 1805, Admiral Nelson defeated the French navy at the Battle of Trafalgar. At the same time the French army turned its attention away from the invasion of Britain and headed east to fight the Austrians and Russians. Napoleon never again had the chance to invade.
By 1859, advances in warfare and artillery meant that a British Government report found that Martello Towers and Redoubts were 'not an important element of security against attack'. The Redoubt slowly fell into disuse.
First World War
During the First World War, the Redoubt was used as an Army Provost Corps (Military Police) headquarters and town guardroom. The cells that formed part of this can still be visited.
In 1926 Eastbourne Borough Council bought the building from the War Department and plans were made to turn it into a venue for leisure activities.
World War II
During 1939 - 1945, the building was requisitioned again and was used briefly as an air raid shelter for a local school, for storage and was said to have housed Canadian troops before D-Day and the start of the liberation of France on 6th June 1944.
After the war, the Redoubt was home to a Model Village, an Aquarium and a Music Garden. It was even possible to play Crazy Golf on the gun platform!