POWER AND MIGHT OF THE BIG GUNS - Thursday, 10 April 2014

Join uniformed gun crews from the Portsdown Artillery Volunteers (PAV) at Fort Nelson on Easter Sunday (April 20) as they fire a British Land Service mortar – one of the guns upon which fortification defence depended.

Uniformed gunners will demonstrate the drill and fire a cast-iron, 13-inch Land Service Mortar, circa1800, which was planned to form part of the 19th century Fort’s original armament. Altogether, three mortar batteries were constructed on the ramparts at Fort Nelson as part of Portsmouth’s defence from feared invasion by the French

Mortars of this size hurled large bombs high into the air so that they exploded above the heads of attacking troops. Maximum range was about 3,000 yards or 2,743 metres.

The firings will take place at 11.30am, 12 noon, 2pm and 3.30pm in the North Mortar Battery and the PAV will also provide specialist commentary, plus the chance for museum visitors to chat and interact with the crew.

Fort Operations Manager Nigel Hosier said, “The demonstration, including commentary, will be followed by the chance for visitors to inspect the gun, and to ask the volunteer gunners questions.

“Museum admission and parking are absolutely free and a trip round Fort Nelson is an ideal way to spend Easter Sunday, whatever the weather.”

Royal Armouries’ Curator of Artillery Philip Magrath, added, “The display is spectacular, a must if you are visiting the fort. These mortars, together with the rampart guns, would have provided formidable firepower. No guns though were ever fired in anger as the threat of French invasion failed to materialise.”

As well as free daily gun firings, Royal Armouries at Fort Nelson offers a great day out for all the family. Standing high on Portsdown Hill near Fareham, the Palmerston fort showcases one of the world’s finest collections of artillery and guns, from across the ages and from all corners of the globe.

In 2011, this unique heritage attraction underwent a major 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, including a café with views over Portsmouth Harbour.

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Notes to editors

Download the PDF press release.