Fort Nelson is home to the Royal Armouries’ collection of artillery and historic cannon – the Big Guns – with over 350 on display, including the massive 200-tonne railway gun.
This vast Victorian fortification, with panoramic views of the Solent and Meon Valley, was built in the 1860s as part of a defensive chain around Portsmouth and its vital Royal Dockyard. It is probably one of the best surviving examples of a Victorian fortress and has been restored to its original 19th-century state, together with parts of its Second World War history.
Visitors can explore 19 acres of ramparts and outer fortifications, plus secret underground tunnels and ammunition bunkers, and discover what life was like for the Victorian garrison in the barrack rooms, hospital and kitchen.
Museum galleries include The Voice of the Guns and Artillery Hall, which display an extensive collection of iconic guns from around the world, from medieval wall-smashers to 20th-century weaponry.
Daily events include guided tours and a live firing of a World War Two 25-pounder Gun Howitzer at 1pm. Cafe 1871 serves drinks, snacks and light meals throughout the day.
See the events calendar for details of special events and school holiday activities throughout the year.
Museum admission is free.
- Exit the M27 at junction 11.
- Take the exit signposted for Gosport and Fareham.
- Stay in the left-hand lane, this will take you down a slip road to a roundabout.
Landmark: A railway viaduct on your left.
- At this roundabout take the first left turn, signposted A27 Portchester.
Landmark: Delme Arms Public House on left.
- Stay in the left-hand lane.
- Go through the first set of traffic lights.
- At the second set take a left-hand turn into Down End Road.
- Follow the road up and around for approximately ½ mile.
- Fort Nelson will appear on your left-hand side.
Brown tourist signs for Royal Armouries will help guide you on this route.
Ensure a trouble free journey and check for the latest road traffic information at Highways England
At present there is no bus service to Fort Nelson.
The closest railway station is Portchester, which has regular trains running from the east (Portsmouth/Cosham/Havant) and from the West (Southampton/Fareham/Eastleigh). Taxis from Portchester station to Fort Nelson take approximately 5 minutes.
Other mainline stations nearby:
- Fareham – 10 minutes away by taxi
- Havant – 20 minutes away by taxi
Taxi services are widely available in the local area.
There are two free car parks available at Fort Nelson. Our main car park is directly outside of the visitors centre and contains 4 allocated parking spaces for visitors with disabilities as well as standard parking spaces. Please be aware that this car park can get busy at peak times.
There is also a second over flow car park opposite the Fort, but this does involve crossing a busy road and climbing a number of steps to reach the visitor centre. This car park may be unsuitable for parties with mobility issues or young children.