Etching depicting the scene c1848

By John Hills

Photo:Etching of harbour entrance c1848

Etching of harbour entrance c1848


  This would have been the sight that greeted the small boat carrying  King Louis Philipp of France and his queen, as they landed at Newhaven in 1848, when they fled France after a revolution had overthrown the monarchy.

The group of buildings to the right of the etching are situated on the site where the Hope Inn which stands today.

The river Ouse had broken through the single bank, east of Seaford in the 16th century and the construction of a new entrance with piers at the eastern and western sides of the harbour started from about 1630 onwards.

Newhaven would have became one of only two fully navigable harbours, at that time, between the Isle of Wight and Dover.

The new harbour flourished with oak from the Weald of Sussex being exported, whilst wine and spirits were imported from the continent.

In July 1664,  the need for providing a better harbour was considered to be desirable and a licence was granted, to scour and make navigable the river between Newhaven and Lewes, complete with the building of a pier, lighthouses, fortifications, and slaughterhouses.

This formidable task to improve the harbour in the late 17th century did not progress smoothly and it was not until 1731 that Parliament took the matter seriously. In that year an Act was passed and subsequently with the improvement of the harbour the prosperity of the town increased.

In 1784 an Act of Parliament instructed a bridge to be built over the Ouse at Newhaven to take the place of the ancient ferry whose history we can trace back to the 13th century. The straitening of the river also took place at various times during this 200 year period.  

The East Pier light was set up in 1862, and Newhaven was finally declared to be a port in November 1881, after 12 years construction the breakwater lighthouse was completed in 1892 the West Pier lighthouse completed three years later in 1895.

This page was added by John Hills on 21/05/2021.

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