Newhaven was founded as the settlement of ‘Meeching’ by the Saxons in the sixth century. The village remained fairly isolated until the River Ouse broke through the shingle bar on the coast in the sixteenth century, creating a new harbour.
The town was of little maritime importance until the opening of the railway line to Lewes in 1847. This provided a catalyst for the growth of the port, with the building of wharves on the east side of the river, and the start of navigational dredging in the river channel. Port facilities also experienced a further upgrade during the First World War when the port area was designated a ‘Special Military Area’.
The town has two railway stations. Newhaven Town is the main station and provides access to London to the north, Brighton to the west and Seaford to the east. The port benefits from having another station ‘Newhaven Harbour’, within close proximity.
Newhaven Port can be accessed via road, rail and sea. The harbour can accommodate vessels of up to 145 metres in length, with a maximum draft of 8 metres. The entrance is kept dredged to a depth of 6 metres.
The town lies at the end of the A26, which connects with the main A259 coast road between Brighton and Eastbourne. The opening times of Newhaven Swing Bridge is an important factor that should be considered when travelling through the town. Timing journeys to avoid opening times can help reduce travel time and congestion on the A259.