First World War Centenary



Bullets, Blades and Battle Bowlers – the personal arms and armour of the First World War

Date: Opened 12 September 2014
Location: War Gallery

Bullets, Blades and Battle Bowlers is a new permanent exhibition sharing the stories of inventors, tacticians and soldiers of different nationalities. Through individual stories the exhibition will explore and explain how technological advancements helped catapult the world into the era of modern warfare. The exhibition is funded by DCMS/Wolfson Galleries Improvement Fund.


They That Are Left

Date: November 2014 – February 2015
Location: Royal Armouries, Leeds

As part of the remembrance programme for 2014, a photographic exhibition of war veterans by photographer Brian David Stevens was displayed at Royal Armouries museum in Leeds. This poignant exhibition showed a series of black and white portraits taken at The Cenotaph on Armistice Days 2002-12. This exhibition transferred to Fort Nelson in February 2015.

Threads of War

Date: Friday 27 March 2015 – Sunday 21 June 2015
Location: Royal Armouries, Leeds

Threads of War is a moving exhibition of contemporary textiles inspired by the First World War, created by members of the 1914-18 Commemorative Quilts and Textiles Group.



Railway Howitzer

Britain’s last surviving railway gun is already in situ as part of the display of artillery of the First World War, in the Artillery Hall at Fort Nelson. Increasingly heavy howitzers were developed during the First World War as part of the trend to build bigger calibre guns capable of firing heavier, more destructive shells in the battle to break the stalemate on the Western Front. This would have been the largest of its type.

The First World War ended before any of the four 18-inch howitzers were ready. Some were used for testing purposes on artillery ranges and one had a new lease of life in the Second World War – serving on a railway line in Kent, in readiness to blast the beaches if a German invasion force landed. Each 18-inch shell weighed about a ton but the Howitzer was never fired in anger as the feared invasion never occurred.

‘Soixante Quinze’

The French 75 mm field gun, known as the ‘75’ – the first modern field gun and one of the most famous weapons of the 1914-18 conflict – has been acquired recently and is on display at Fort Nelson, where it can be compared with the field artillery of France’s ally Britain and their enemy, Germany.

The ‘75’ holds an unrivalled position in the rapid technological development of artillery during the late 19th century and fired an unprecedented 15 to 20 rounds per minute – subjecting German troops to a ferocious barrage. The gun also played a central role in the infamous Dreyfus Affair, which divided France. The controversy centred on the question of guilt or innocence of French army captain, Alfred Dreyfus, falsely convicted of treason in 1894 for allegedly selling military secrets to the Germans – including details from the specification of this devastating new gun.


They That Are Left

Date: 28 February – 23 June 2015
Location: Fort Nelson

A photographic exhibition of war veterans by artist Brian David Stevens will go on display. This poignant exhibition comprises of black and white portraits taken at The Cenotaph on Armistice Days 2002-12.



The Tower at War 1914-18: Foreman Buckingham Goes to War

Date: 4 August 2014 – 1 April 2015
Location: White Tower, Tower of London

A showcase in the White Tower is dedicated to telling the story of the Tower and its people during the First World War, with content updated annually and including extracts from the contemporary Tower minute-book detailing the daily activities on site. In 2014 we focussed on the tragic story of William Buckingham, Armouries’ foreman and keen volunteer artilleryman, who on the outbreak of the war, enlisted with the rank of Battery Sergeant Major in the Royal Field Artillery and journeyed north to Peterborough to train new recruits.


Explore the Weapons of the First World War Online

The launch will coincide with the launch of the new collection online website, with extra content added regularly.

This year will see the start of a new digital interface to the Royal Armouries’ collection, which will allow users access to images, videos and information not previously available online. This is only the start of the project and it will continue to develop and grow with exciting new content added over the coming years.

First World War Archives Project

Royal Armouries is working with a number of local museums, archives and other heritage organisations to stage an exciting project, exploring various aspects of the Great War. The project will investigate the history of the Royal Small Arms Factory with Enfield Museums Service, Local Studies and Archives, and the RSA Trust; and the development and manufacture of the British service rifle with the Historical Breechloading Small Arms Association. Royal Armouries is also working with local regimental museums in Yorkshire to discover more about the experiences of those who fought in local regiments and corps on the Western Front and in other theatres during the war.

The project will run from 1 April 2014 until 31 March 2016 and is funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund.