Fort Nelson 64 Pounder

Fort Nelson 64 Pounder

Fort Nelson Artillery Hall

Fort Nelson Artillery Hall

Fort Nelson, in the civil parish of Boarhunt, in the English county of Hampshire, is one of five defensive forts built on the summit of Portsdown Hill in the 1860s, overlooking the important naval base of Portsmouth. It is now part of the Royal Armouries, housing their collection of artillery, and a Grade I Listed Building. Fort Nelson is a typical Polygonal or Palmerston Fort. It is six-sided with a deep ditch protected by three caponiers. Above each caponier is a well-protected emplacement for 13-inch mortars. It was originally entered by two Guthrie rolling bridges and has a barrack block for 172 officers and men, protected by a V-shaped redan. A large open parade ground gives access to the magazines 40 feet underneath it. There are open emplacements on the ramparts for 64 pounder rifled muzzle-loading guns and 6.6 inch howitzers. There are also three Haxo casemates for 7 inch rifled breech-loaders.

 

Fort Nelson is one of five Portsdown Forts. Built as a result of the 1859 Royal Commission by Lord Palmerston to prevent a French land attack, on the Portsmouth dockyard only 8 kilometres away, because the older Hilsea Lines at the bottom of the ridge were considered insufficient. A series of 5 forts were built along the 7 miles (10 km) of the ridge. From west to east they are forts Fareham, Wallington, Nelson, Southwick, Widley and Purbrook. The line was finished off at the eastern end with Crookhorn Redoubt and Farlington Redoubt. A garrison of around 200 volunteers accompanied by regular army officers would have manned the fort in time of war. Construction was protracted and Fort Nelson wasn't fully armed until the 1890s. The fort was disarmed in 1907 and then used for accommodation. In 1938, it was converted to an area anti-aircraft ammunition store; ten large magazines were built on the parade ground. Fort Nelson was abandoned in the 1950s.

 

Fort Nelson becam part of the Royal Armouries in 1995. It houses their collection of artillery, including: The 'Boxted Bombard', an English wrought iron cannon from around 1450, which was powerful enough to fire a 60 kg granite ball. The 'Dardanelles Gun', a Turkish bronze cannon from 1464 which was powerful enough to fire stone balls with a diameter of 63 cm. French field guns captured at the Battle of Waterloo. Fortress guns from India and China. Parts of the famous Iraqi 'Project Babylon' Gulf War-era supergun. One of the two Mallet's Mortars. Several SBBL 32 pounders. The fort covers around 19 acres and is open all year round, with no charges except for some special events. Live firing demonstrations are held every day, costumed guides, video presentations, and visitors are able to explore the tunnels that run below the fort connecting the magazines with gun emplacements. There are displays demonstrating the living and working conditions of the soldiers who manned the fort, and views over Portsmouth, the Solent, Hayling Island and Gosport, with the Isle of Wight beyond.

 

Fort Nelson is a Scheduled Ancient Monument with different surfaces and levels. There are steps of varying widths and heights, changing surfaces between paving stones, gravel, and grass. Ramps provide access to much of the site. A powered lift is available between the Parade and main gallery level. The main tunnel and galleries are wheelchair accessible. Gallery films have super text captions. The ‘Voice of the Guns’ and ‘Story of Fort Nelson’ and other new galleries contain large print guides, available on request from the Visitor Centre information desk. Visitor Centre counters are wheelchair accessible. Many of the large cannon objects are displayed in the open and may be touched. Wheelchairs are available to book in advance of your visit. Please telephone 01329 848511. Adapted toilets are available on both main levels and in the Visitor Centre. Assistance dogs are welcome in the Museum. There are two free car parks available at Fort Nelson. Our main car park is directly outside of the Visitor Centre and includes 4 allocated parking spaces for visitors with disabilities. Please be aware that this car park can get busy at peak times. There is an overflow car park opposite the Fort, but this involves the crossing of a busy road and climbing a number of steps to reach the Visitor Centre and Museum entrance. This car park may be unsuitable for parties with mobility issues or young children.

 

Location : Royal Armouries Museum, Fort Nelson, Portsdown Hill Road, Fareham, PO17 6AN

Transport :Portchester (National Rail) then taxi. Bus Routes : No bus service.

Opening Times : Daily April to October 10:00 to 17:00; November to March 10:30 to 16:00

Tickets : Free

Tel. : 01329 233 734