With the new era of guided missiles fixed defences such as Hurst Castle became obsolete. In 1956 coastal artillery was abolished and Hurst Castle came into the care of English Heritage.
In 1984, local businessman Sean Crane and his wife Mary, set up Hurst Ferries – now known as Hurst Marine, to provide a regular ferry service from Keyhaven to Hurst Castle.
The strategic wisdom of placing Hurst Castle at the extreme end of one of the most exposed and vulnerable locations in Britain is reflected in the castle’s long military history. It means, however, that its care, together with maintenance of the spit and sea defences is a continuing task if all are to survive. In 1993 English Heritage could no longer see how to finance the castle and was looking to close its doors.
Sean’s strong family connections to the castle – his father was the Castle Keeper from 1956 and his uncle, the Lighthouse Keeper from 1952-1989 – made him determined to keep the castle open and save it from closure. An agreement was then set up between Sean Crane and English Heritage to ensure the castle remained open for future generations to enjoy. Hurst Marine continue to manage the castle alongside English Heritage, with Sean’s son, Jason now in charge of the day-to-day operation of the family business.
Over the past half century extensive conservation work has been undertaken and is still ongoing at the castle. Saturday 26 February 2022 marked one year since the collapse in the east wing, after the sea exposed and undercut its foundations.
For more information on this project, please visit English Heritage.
We are also pleased to announce that Hurst Castle has been named to the 2022 World Monuments Watch, a selection of 25 heritage sites of worldwide significance whose preservation is urgent and vital to the communities surrounding them. These sites powerfully demonstrate pressing global challenges of climate change, imbalanced tourism, underrepresentation, and recovery from crisis, underscoring the need for greater action to support heritage places and the people who care for them. You can view the full list of 2022 Watch sites here.
Sean Crane’s uncle was the Lighthouse Keeper from 1962-1989
Sean Crane’s dad, who was the Castle Keeper from 1956