Digging deep for a Victorian spade - Friday, 22 October 2010
Do you have great-granddad’s old spade lurking in your garden shed – or are you a dedicated collector of Victorian memorabilia? The hunt is on to track down an authentic spade or shovel that will be used to perform the honours at Fort Nelson’s official ground-breaking ceremony.
Britain’s oldest museum – the Royal Armouries – would be delighted to hear from anyone who is happy to lend a spade or shovel, dating from Queen Victoria’s reign.
A £3.5m 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 or shovel will be used to turn the “first turf” on November 3 at the Fort on Portsdown Hill, near Fareham.
Museum Director Peter Armstrong said, “Building methods have obviously changed, radically, since the Fort was built in the 1860s to protect Portsmouth from feared invasion by the French. 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.
“We would be delighted if anyone who has a spade would get in touch – it can be anyone from a private individual to custodians of larger collections.”
If you can help, contact Joss Loader on 07838 379599.
The ground-breaking ceremony is the latest milestone in the project, which saw national building company Mansell awarded a £2.25m contract in the summer to build visitor facilities and a breathtaking new glass-fronted gallery at the free heritage attraction.
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”.
- 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 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.
Further details of this and the full Royal Armouries’ Dangerously Entertaining Events calendar by visiting:
Primary PR Ltd.
Tel: 07838 379599
Notes to editorsFacilities will be somewhat limited at the Fort on Trafalgar Day, as electricity supplies will be switched off, as a planned part of the £3.5m project to transform Fort Nelson into a state-of-the-art museum. The main Redan barrack block building and tunnels will be closed, but visitors will still be able to access parade, ramparts, ditch and Artillery Hall. All daily events will still go ahead, and the refreshments kiosk will be offering a basic service (the cafe will be shut). The museum will close at 4pm that day.
- 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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.