Mobilising the guns at Fort Nelson - Tuesday, 5 July 2011
A highly skilled operation to move some of the most famous big guns in history into the spectacular new glass-sided gallery at Fort Nelson started today (4 July 2011).
Britain’s oldest museum, the Royal Armouries, has contracted international engineers Beck & Pollitzer to carry out the removal work as part of a £3.5m revamp, part funded by a grant of more than £2m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
Beck & Pollitzer are moving the first exhibits – two anti-aircraft guns – into the new gallery, The Voice of the Guns, at Fort Nelson, near Portsmouth. A further 12 guns will now be moved into position during the next two weeks, paving the way for the museum relaunch on August 6.
Sean Mannie, Head of Royal Armouries South, said, “It’s particularly fitting that we’re starting with anti-aircraft guns, because, in World War II, Fort Nelson supplied ammunition to the AA batteries that defended the south coast. These weapons gave the local civilian population hope and a sense of fighting back, as they suffered through the blitzes of 1940-41.”
Moving the guns from storage to the new gallery is a major milestone in a yearlong construction project to refurbish the Victorian Fort, sympathetically, into a museum fit for the 21st Century. Other major improvements include a new visitor centre, café, education centre and extended parking.
Guns to be moved early this week include:
- British 3.7-inch Anti-Aircraft gun and Searchlight – During the grim nights of the Blitz, the guns’ skilled crews worked closely with the searchlight batteries. Fort Nelson had its own gun batteries and also supplied the ammunition for the other guns in the area.
Weight: 8,120 kg
Fire rate: 8 rounds per minute.
- Bofors 40 mm Anti-Aircraft Gun – With one of the most rapid rates of fire, this versatile light anti-aircraft gun was used by Britain on both land and sea for over 30 years and was particularly effective against low-flying, attack aircraft. Whether operating in the North African desert campaign, or on a convoy in the Atlantic Ocean, the Bofors’ firepower saved countless Allied lives.
Weight: – 1,920 kg
Date: – 1940
Fire rate: – 120 rounds per minute.
Other guns to be moved into the new gallery include a French cannon, captured at the Battle of Waterloo; a bronze Russian cannon from the Crimean War of the 1850s, and sections from the barrel of the infamous Iraqi Supergun.
The Fort remains open during the gun movement operation. For more details
Download images of the guns being moved.
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Notes to editors
- 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.
- 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.
- To support the work of the Royal armouries; make a donation at justgiving.com
- The Royal Armouries Museum should not be confused with Royal Armouries International plc, the private sector corporate hospitality business.