Caught by the River

Lying In The Mouth Of The River Ouse

13th January 2018

We recently came across ‘Lying In The Mouth Of The River Ouse’, a photographic urban landscape project by Darren Baldwin. Darren has kindly allowed us to repost some photos from the series, but first some context from his site:

‘Lying in the mouth of the River Ouse is the small port town of Newhaven, it sits at the tail end of the Lewes District in East Sussex three miles from where I live in Peacehaven. Originating as the small fishing village of Meeching in Saxon times, it became known as New Haven due to the changing course of the River Ouse in the late 1500s. However, the village was of little maritime consequence until the opening of the railway line to Lewes in 1847; the London Brighton and South Coast Railway constructed their own wharf and facilities on the east side of the river as well as opening the Newhaven harbour railway station.

Best known these days for its regular sea route to Dieppe in France, this once busy ferry port has been a continuous base for not only fishing fleets and families for hundreds of years, but a home to the RNLI Lifeboat Station since 1803, Newhaven Fort which is one of seventy-two coastal defence forts built along the coast during the 1850s, Castle Hill Nature Reserve which one of Southdowns’ sites of special scientific interest as well as playing host to two busy marinas. Although the port and the sea remain deeply embedded within the identity of the town, economically the port declined in importance during the latter half of the twentieth century.

In an attempt to address the mounting traffic problems during the 1970s, amid much controversy then and now, the main core of town centre was literally cut-off and surrounded by a new ring-road; this effectively turned the town centre into a suburban-roundabout and is affectionately referred to by the local community as the ‘noose around the town’s neck’ – at this point the town centre drew its last breath and despite current talk of regeneration, many local shops and supermarkets have upped and left, leaving the centre eerily bereft of any soul.

In July 2012 after 10 years of debate, Newhaven became the foundation for another controversial and locally deplored project, the ‘Newhaven Energy Recovery Facility’ … or as anyone actually refers to it, the Incinerator. A piece of architechture resembling a giant silverfish, the structure can be seen from most locations around the town and for many, it was the final ‘nail in the coffin’ for the struggling town’.

See the full series on Darren’s website.

Darren Baldwin on Twitter/Instagram