Tucked away upriver and in a western pocket of the harbour the marina offers complete protection. Safe access may be had in all reasonable conditions, day or night and at all states of the tide.
Keyfacts for Newhaven
SummaryA completely protected location with safe access.
Position and approaches
Haven position50° 46.553' N, 000° 3.507' E
This is the position of the lighthouse, white with a red base Oc(2)10s17m12M, at the end of the breakwater.
What is the initial fix?
What are the key points of the approach?
- It is advisable to contact the marina, VHF Channel 80 [Newhaven Marina], in advance to confirm a berth is available.
- Call Newhaven Harbour Port Control, VHF Channel 12 [Newhaven Radio] to ask permission to enter.
- Obey the instructions issued by Port Control and the Vessel Traffic Signals on the West Pier at the mouth of the river.
- Stand at least 50 metres or more eastward of the lighthouse at the head of the breakwater.
- Proceed upriver via the dredged channel to the marina about a ¼ of a mile above the harbour entrance.
Not what you need?
How to get in?
Image: Ian Stannard via CC BY-SA 2.0
Newhaven is a town that lies at the mouth of the River Ouse with a commercial port and ferry service to Dieppe, France. The harbour is formed by the lower reaches of the river with its mouth fronted by two concrete breakwaters. The western and more substantial arm sweeps out 705 metres to seaward to provide protection to the southwest and has a prominent lighthouse at its extremity. The shorter straighter lattice constructed East Pier extends out about half that distance from the east side of the river mouth, and the entrance lies between it and the West Pier.
The harbour area lies about a ¼ of a mile above the entrance for a mile northward where there is a swing bridge that opens to allow vessels upriver. Quays used by ferries and commercial vessels occupy the east bank and the pontoon berths of Newhaven Marina are on the west bank. The town lies mainly on the west bank of the river about a ½ mile north of the entrance.
Image: Michael Harpur
Newhaven Marina is situated a ¼ of a mile in from the harbour entrance at Sleepers Hole. The 285 berth marina can accommodate vessels of up to 15.5 metres LOA carrying a draft of 1.5 metres. However, the marina is regularly dredged and vessels of 2 metres should have no problems except on low water Springs. Deeper vessels can be accommodated with a rise and then ground in mud so soft as to be unnoticed during low water Springs. If in doubt take advice from the marina.
The marina welcomes visitors but can be busy at weekends during the season so it is advisable to contact them in advance VHF Channel 80 [Newhaven Marina] P: +44 1273 513 881.
Newhaven Harbour Port Control, on VHF Channel 12 [Newhaven Radio] and P: +44 1273 612926, coordinate all traffic in and out of the port. It is essential to contact the port authority before making any approach to the harbour.
Image: Michael Harpur
The port regulates traffic via an IALA Traffic Light system from a Signal Station on the western side of the river near the head of West Pier. The following traffic signals, displayed vertically, are shown from a mast near the head of the West Pier.
Image: Michael Harpur
Persons not complying with the signal system are liable to prosecution. Similarly, when red lights are showing on the signal mast, situated at the North End corner of the marina, no vessels may leave any part of Newhaven Marina.
Image: Michael Harpur
Offshore details are available in southeast England’s Coastal Overview for North Foreland to the Isle of Wight . The harbour’s entrance is in the northwest extremety of Seaford Bay, close to the east of Burrow Head, the last of the range of chalk cliffs east of Brighton.
The harbour is readily identified from seaward by its waste incinerator, the chimney being visible from the sea, and the large outer Breakwater, curving out from the western shore, with a prominent lighthouse, Oc(2)10s17m12M, standing on its head. The tower is painted white with a red base and has a sign 'Port of Newhaven, VHF Ch.12' on the seaward side. A conspicuous television mast will also be seen standing on high ground about 1-mile west-northwest of the harbour entrance. It can be safely approached from seaward.
Image: Andy Hay
From the initial fix, a ¼ of a mile southward of the head of the Breakwater with its lighthouse, the harbour will have been readily apparent for several miles. If not already done, call port control to advise them of your intentions and check the Signal Station is exhibiting two fixed greens at the top, and a white at the bottom. If there is any confusion contact port control.
If Port Control has provided permission to enter steer to pass in through the dredged channel. Whilst proceeding into the harbour maintain a careful watch for high-speed craft in its approaches. There is ample room in the channel.
During strong onshore winds, a difficult sea may be encountered at the entrance to the harbour with breaking seas on the eastern side of the dredged channel. Passing in close as possible to the breakwater side of the channel in these conditions is the best approach, but do not come any closer than 50 metres from the lighthouse as there is a shallow and drying area close east of the light.
Within the breakwater steer for the river entrance keeping to the main channel, that is dredged to 6.0 metres. Don't be tempted westward towards the Breakwater as a mud bank extends out from within its confines. The speed limit in the harbour area is 5kn.
The East Pier is 320 metres in length and has a lit white pole with green horizontal bands at its head, QFlG 12m 5M. The entrance lies between it and the West Pier from which its width varies from between 69 to 149 metres. The channel in the Inner Harbour is also dredged to 6 metres.
Image: Michael Harpur
Newhaven Marina is situated a ¼ of a mile above on the western bank of the river. The visitor's berths are alongside the first long outer pontoon encountered to port. The other berths are mostly dredged to 1 metre.
Northwest of Denton Island, Peter Leonard Marine, formally Cantell's Yard, also offers drying berths P:+44 1273 515987 E: email@example.com
This is above the Swing Bridge at the head of the harbour with a channel of 17.3 metres between its timbers with a clearance under the swing bridge of 8.10 metres – gauge reading. The Swing Bridge opens on demand through Port Radio and it has a waiting pontoon that can accommodate one boat off the east bank. Bridge signals controlling traffic through the swing bridge are exhibited from a tower on the east side of the river close downstream of the bridge.
Call [Newhaven Bridge Control] VHF Ch.12. Commercial vessels under pilotage navigating through the swing bridge have the right of way in all circumstances. All other vessels must keep clear of the navigable channel.
Why visit here?Newhaven derives its name from the 1539 artificial creation of a new mouth for the River Ouse. Prior to that, the original Saxon fishing village that stood on the west bank of the river was called Meeching. Over the centuries the river mouth migrated between Newhaven and the historic port of Seaford in response to the growth and decay of a fronting shingle spit. When the artificial cut was made below Meeching, to overcome silting, the harbour it created became known as 'the new haven' and hence it took on this new name from the mid-16th century.
History of inhabitation in the Newhaven area, however, runs much deeper. Stone Age struck flints, Neolithic pottery, bronze and Iron Age items are amongst the relics of a presumed Bronze Age fort on what is now called Castle Hill situated close west of the entrance. It is believed that the hill’s first fort was built around 400BC and it is thought that a Roman fort stood on the same site later.
In about 480 AD the Saxons founded the village of Meeching. First recorded as Mechinges c.1090 and Mecinges c.1095, it is thought to mean ‘dwellers at Mece’, with Mece meaning a ‘sword’. This Old English use of the word, with the primary meaning of a ‘pointed weapon’, was often used to describe a pointed landform and would most likely have described the then long spit deflecting the River Ouse towards Seaford. The church of St. Michael on the west side of the town, with its square embattled tower surmounted by a spire, was built by the Normans in 1120. Although there is little known of the history of medieval Meeching, it is clear that it was a small village that would have been located near its church.
While it is believed the river mouth in the Iron Age and Roman period was located approximately where it is today, subsequent longshore drift created an extensive shingle spit so that the Ouse exited 4km to the east-south-east at Seaford during the medieval period. Seaford at this time was one of the main ports serving southern England and was a ‘Limb’ of Hastings in the coastal confederation of Cinque Ports – see Rye Harbour .
But in the late middle ages, the shingle spit started to extend eastward hindering the outflow of the river. This movement combined with 14th-century land reclamation of the saltmarsh, or inning, reduced the tidal scour that cleared the silt. The sedimentation and long history of persistent raids by French pirates sent the port of Seaford into terminal decline by the early 16th century.
The solution to the silting was an artificial cut, made c.1539, through the shingle bar creating an outfall approximately on the present site of the river mouth below Castle Hill. The cut created access to a sheltered harbour that was better than that at Seaford called ‘the new haven’. First recorded as Newehaven in 1587 the use of Meeching gradually fell into disuse, although it is still preserved in street names and is the name of the local school.
The Newhaven cut, however, was not without its own problems and renewed longshore drift and inning meant that gains were short-lived. A significant 1579 storm blocked the river forcing it to breach its way through the shingle area 750 metres to the east of the present mouth to create Mill Creek. This flooded the levels upstream and hindered access to the port. The remedy to the situation was a straightening of the south section of the river and a new cutting with a fixed harbour entrance. Piers were constructed on both sides, with the eastern one extending northwards to cut off the new breakthrough channel at Tide Mills. These piers were rebuilt between 1791 and 93, to prevent a bar forming, and the present breakwaters were established in 1890.
Image: Barry Marsh
With the river finally under control, Newhaven established itself as one of only two fully navigable harbours between Portsmouth and Dover. Trade flourished and a shipbuilding industry grew alongside. The river was crossed by a small ferry up until 1784 when a wooden bridge was built to link the east of Sussex and furthering its importance. The bridge survived till 1866 and was not replaced with an iron swing bridge until 1974, after which the present day electrically operated opening bridge was built.
The creation of the harbour, the river crossing and the swift replacement of the place-name Meeching by Newhaven might suggest the rapid development of a significant town, but this was not the case. Newhaven remained little more than a village until the 19th-century. Its importance only truly blossomed with the coming of the railway line to Lewes in 1847. This funded the dredging of the channel and other improvements to the harbour between 1850 and 1878, to enable the harbour to support the Newhaven-Dieppe cross-channel ferry service that commenced in 1863. Thereafter, Newhaven expanded more rapidly and the small village finally developed into a town.
Image: Michael Harpur
The protection of this tempting landing place from foreign invaders was not overlooked by the 1859 Royal Commission. The result was Newhaven Fort, one of the Palmerston Forts – see St Helens Duver, that was built on Castle Hill just as the Bronze Age denizens and Romans had done before. The fort is the largest defence work ever built in Sussex and stood as a vital element of coastal defence through two World Wars.
Image: Michael Coppins via ASA 4.0
During the First World War the fort offered considerable protection to the harbour which became the main military supply port for the British Expeditionary Force in France. The port was taken over by the military authorities for this period and the ferries requisitioned for the duration of the war. Newhaven Seaplane Station was also located across from the fort at Tide Mills from 1917-20. Large numbers of Canadian troops were stationed at Newhaven during World War II. The ill-fated Dieppe Raid in 1942 was largely launched from the harbour.
Steeped in maritime history, today, Newhaven still links the UK to France via Dieppe. St. Michael’s church is the sole remnant of the medieval village, but there are several 18th-century houses in the town. Military use of Newhaven Fort ceased in 1956 and it is now open as a museum. A memorial garden with an annual service of remembrance commemorates the Canadian troops who lost their lives during the Dieppe Raid.
Newhaven has plenty to warrant a visit and will certainly appeal to anyone with a nautical flair. From a purely sailing point of view, lying about midway between The Solent and the Downs, and in the track of vessels working up or down the Channel, it is a useful berth with a direct entry and exit that is totally uncomplicated in almost all weather conditions. Provisioning is good and most boat problems can be addressed.
What facilities are available?All moorings have electricity and water, and a fuel pontoon lies 150 metres north of the marina entrance. The marina complex includes a well-stocked chandlery, a food and provisions store, public telephone and washrooms.
There are services on site including, a 12-tonne hoist and ashore boat storage, drying piles and grid for scrubbing, slipway launching, and ample free parking.
Petrol and diesel are available by jerry cans at Sainsburys over the bridge about a mile away. Calor or Camping gas refills are available at Peter Leonards Chandlery on Denton Island, just over a ½ mile by road or a dinghy run at high water. The moderately sized town also has a Sommerfield's supermarket, pubs and restaurants, and banks with cashpoints.
Newhaven is located on the Seaford Branch Line from Lewes; there are two operating stations: Newhaven Town and Newhaven Harbour. Bus services also cover the nearby areas.
With thanks to:eOceanic
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