A historic coastal fortress is to undergo significant work to ensure it is safe to reopen to the public.

The Redoubt Fortress on the seafront in Eastbourne remains the most complete and original example of a British Napoleonic-era fortress and was built in 1805.

It is a circular, brick-built structure up to around 68 metres wide and 12 metres tall.

The fortress comprises 24 bomb-proof vaulted chambers known as casements which were built around a central parade ground.

It provided accommodation for officers and men as well as stores and a cookhouse during the Napoleonic war.

The Argus: One of the ten 24-pounder cannonsOne of the ten 24-pounder cannons (Image: Tony Grist)

Above the casemates was the open gun platform, with emplacements for ten 24-pounder cannons.

The Redoubt was enclosed by a dry moat designed to protect the fort in time of attack.

During the First World War the military police used the Redoubt as a headquarters and temporary jail. The army requisitioned the building in the Second World War to use for storage. 

In 1944, anti-aircraft guns were mounted on the gun platforms to counter passing V-1 flying bombs. Canadian troops also spent time at the Redoubt in the build-up to the D-Day landings.

The Redoubt is connected to a colonnade which was constructed in 1934 as a shelter for visitors and is next to the fortress, close to Pavillion Gardens.

The Argus: Eastbourne Redoubt

But 80 years of exposure to storm-force winds, rain and heavy seas has left it weakened and a risk to public safety and the integrity of the fortress itself.

Working closely with Historic England, Eastbourne Borough Council has commissioned the removal of the colonnade. 

Historic England will monitor the progress of the work, which is expected to take 28 weeks to complete.

Councillor Colin Swansborough, cabinet member for heritage assets, said: “While there will be some sadness to see the colonnade removed, our priority must be the safety of the public and the long-term future of the Redoubt Fortress.

“These are significant works and follow the £750,000 investment the council made in the Bandstand, all reflecting our determination to maintain our seafront assets despite the unprecedented pressures on council funding.”