PACKING A POWERFUL PUNCH - Thursday, 19 September 2013

Fort Nelson will ring to the sound of a mighty 13-inch Land Service Mortar on Sunday (September 29) in the latest of Royal Armouries’ spectacular free gun firings.

Uniformed gunners from the Portsdown Artillery Volunteers will fire the historic gun at 11.30am, 1pm and 3pm at the Victorian fort, home to the national collection of artillery – the big guns.

Weighing in at 4.5 tons, the mortar is of a type designed to fire bombs over obstacles, such as fortress walls. It was manufactured around 1810, by the Low Moor Ironworks near Bradford in Yorkshire.

Curator of Artillery Philip Magrath said, “As they’re able to send a 200lb bomb to a maximum range of 2,700 yards, or up to one and a half miles, these mortars pack a powerful punch.

“They could also be deployed in fortification defence and hidden, so they provided exploding fire around or above the heads of attacking troops or amongst their siege works. The Portsdown Hill Forts were originally going to have 40 of these mortars – with nine at Fort Nelson in three batteries.

“Interestingly enough, these mortars were never positioned within the Portsdown Hill Forts due to excessive reverberation around the battery in firing and the preference for the much more accurate 6.6-inch howitzer, introduced in 1883.”
Fort operations manager Nigel Hosier added, “The demonstration will be followed by a chance for visitors to inspect the mortar, and to ask the volunteer gunners for more information, and questions. Museum admission and parking are free and it’s a fascinating day out for all the family.”

Standing high on Portsdown Hill near Fareham, Fort Nelson showcases one of the world’s finest collections of artillery and cannon, from across the ages and from all corners of the globe.

In 2011, this unique heritage attraction underwent a £3.5m redevelopment to create a museum for the 21st century, supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, complete with new galleries, state-of-the-art education centre and visitor facilities.

There’s also a 19-acre site to explore, complete with underground tunnels – and the Café 1871 is open every day.
For more details about Fort Nelson, please visit

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Notes to editors

To find Fort Nelson, follow the brown Tourist signs from the M27. The Fort is open seven days a week, from 10am to 5pm.

Download the PDF press release.