Fareham's Royal Armouries in hunt for Victorian spade to kick off new project for Fort Nelson

By Richard Moss | 21 October 2010
an architect's design for a gallery featuring displays of artillery
The Royal Armouries has ambitious plans for its artillery collection at Fort Nelson - they just need a Victorian spade to get things started
Sometimes a spade is not just a spade. At Fort Nelson, the Victorian fortification near Portsmouth, staff are currently on the hunt for an authentic Victorian spade to perform the honours at their official ground-breaking ceremony.

The £3.5 million project started in August to transform the Victorian Fort, currently home to the national collection of cannon and artillery, into a visitor attraction fit for the 21st Century. The spade will be used to turn the "first turf" on November 3 at the Fort on Portsdown Hill, near Fareham.

The Armouries say they would be delighted to hear from anyone willing to lend a spade – or indeed a shovel – dating from Queen Victoria's reign for the auspicious event.

"Building methods have obviously changed radically since the Fort was built in the 1860s to protect Portsmouth from feared invasion by the French," says Museum Director Peter Armstrong.

"We thought that using a Victorian spade, rather than a modern shiny example, would be symbolic of our aim to refurbish the Fort in a sympathetic but exciting way."

Anyone with a suitable implement should contact Joss Loader on 07838 379599.
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