Fort Nelson transformed into museum for the 21st Century - Monday, 9 August 2010
A £3.5m project to transform the Royal Armouries Museum at Fort Nelson reaches a major milestone today (Monday, August 9) with the start of much-awaited building works.
National building company Mansell have been awarded a £2.25m contract to build visitor facilities and a breathtaking new glass-fronted gallery at the free heritage attraction near Fareham, Hampshire.
The project – part funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of almost £2m – will see the Victorian Fort refurbished sympathetically into a modern visitor attraction, complete with state-of-the art education facilities including a “classroom of the future”.
Ground clearance work and pre-construction work has been continuing apace at the Portsdown Hill site since the Spring. The major construction phase begins today, when work starts on the visitor admissions complex.
The Fort remains open throughout the building phase – with a full programme of public events including the popular children’s summer holiday programme. Project completion is scheduled for May 2011.
Royal Armouries Museum Director Peter Armstrong said, ”We are delighted to confirm that we’ve signed a £2.25m contract with Mansell and the work gets underway with a vengeance this week. We are all really excited by this far-reaching and ambitious project, which will create much-needed visitor facilities and galleries with a guaranteed wow factor. It will be a huge boost for the local economy, both during the construction phase and to the tourist industry for years to come.
“Every effort will be made to keep any disruption to a bare minimum during construction and the Fort will open as normal – it’s very much business as usual.”
Fort Nelson houses the national collection of historic cannon and artillery. The overall revamp includes:
- A new, 355sq m, free visitor centre and facilities for Fort Nelson and Portsdown Hill outside the walls of the Fort, containing an information and welcome centre, larger shop and new café for use by visitors and passing traffic, cyclists and walkers.
- A dramatic new 450 sq m entrance gallery – the Orienteur – displaying the most dramatic and iconic cannon in the collection including Saddam Hussein’s infamous Supergun.
- A state-of-the-art education centre and facilities, including a new ‘classroom of the future’ and dedicated entrance.
- Re-siting the main visitor entrance so that visitors cross a dramatic original drawbridge to enter the fort and provision of a lift between both levels of the Fort to greatly enhance access for all.
- New parking facilities next to the site, providing easy access for the first time to the famous Nelson Monument.
The Fort Nelson scheme will be project managed by Greenwood Projects Ltd.
For details regarding the project visit www.fort-nelson-hlf-development.org.
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Notes to editors
Reporters and photographers are welcome at the event, please call in advance if possible. The fort is steeped in history and a tailored guided tour can be arranged. If you would like copies of photographs of past activities please email or call using the details below.
- The Royal Armouries at Fort Nelson houses the national collection of historic cannon and big guns. The museum houses one of the world’s finest collections with over 350 cannon dating back over 600 years. The collection originated at HM Tower of London and has been on display in Hampshire since 1995.
- The Royal Armouries at Fort Nelson also tells the story of the Palmerston Forts, built to protect Portsmouth from a feared French invasion in the 1860’s.
- Every day, visitors can see one of the big guns fired in salute, watch our resident actors bring to life characters from 1,000 years of history, explore secret underground tunnels and enjoy incredible views from the ramparts. An extensive programme of special event spectaculars takes place throughout the year.
- Fort Nelson is open every day except 24-26 December. April to October 10am –5pm (Wed 11am-5pm), November – March 10.30am – 4pm (Wed 11.30-4pm).
- Admission to the Royal Armouries is FREE.
- Admission charges apply to some events.
- Information line: 01329 233734
- Website: www.royalarmouries.org
- Email: email@example.com
- The Royal Armouries is the national museum of arms and armour with sites at Fort Nelson, Leeds, HM Tower of London and Louisville, Kentucky, USA.
- The Royal Armouries Museum should not be confused with Royal Armouries International plc, the private sector corporate hospitality business.