Opening: Fort Nelson, Fareham, opens August 4 2011
The Royal Armouries' Fareham fortress has been revamped. Fort Nelson carries more than 350 cannons from across the world, housing 600 years of firepower in Hampshire since 1995. With a quick turnover to make any army marksman proud, organisers have now managed to overhaul it in less than a year, adding a glass-sided showcase of its most famous exhibits, new galleries telling the stories behind the setting and swanky education and visitor centres.
“This is a proud and historic week, even by Fort Nelson’s standards,” says Lieutenant-General Jonathan Riley, the Director General and Master of the Armouries. “This is a contemporary new museum which still blends in perfectly with a traditional Victorian fort. I am sure it will entertain and educate hundreds of thousands of visitors for decades to come.”
Riley is keen to credit the Heritage Lottery Fund, which gave the project a grant of more than £2 million, but planners have also done well to keep the Portsdown Hill site open throughout the construction phase. Building began last August, creating space to house the infamous Iraqi Super Gun, two anti-aircraft guns used in combat on the south coast and a Great Turkish Bombard which dates from 1464.
Social history galleries and interactive features augment the ever-popular underground tunnels and ramparts, leading to panoramic views across Portsmouth and the Meon Valley. “It will help bring an important part of our military and social history alive,” believes Stuart McLeod, from the South East division of the Fund.
“The galleries are a fitting home for its comprehensive artillery collection, enabling the story of Portsmouth’s role in both World Wars to be told properly for the first time.”
- Open 10am-5pm (10.30am-4pm November-March). Admission free.