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Royal Armouries


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This imposing Victorian fort is home to the Royal Armouries national collection of artillery – The Big Guns.

Strategically positioned atop Portsdown Hill, with panoramic views across the Meon Valley and Portsmouth Harbour, Fort Nelson is an historic monument, restored to how it would have been in the 1890s. Visitors can access most areas of the fortifications and see how the Fort would have operated.

The museum's displays trace the development of artillery from pre-gunpowder siege machines to modern-day super guns. There are over 350 big guns on display.

Fort Nelson has just undergone a multi-million pound redevelopment transforming it into a museum for the 21st century. Featuring a new visitor centre, a new café and new galleries, including the magnificent Voice of the Guns gallery.

Times and prices are subject to change. Contact venue before setting out.

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  • TudorMaryRose

    07-Jul-2014 Report

    We love Fort Nelson! If you have kids who love exploring and running about and dressing up then this is the place for you and it's free. We spent a very happy 4 hours there at the weekend and had a picnic in the parade ground. We watched the gun salute at 1 pm - and the kids used the ear defenders offered for children to protect their ears. We then explored the ramparts and tunnels, and finally went through the galleries and had enormous fun dressing up and posing for pictures. We will be back.

  • LocalEditorHampshire

    12-Apr-2014 Report

    I found myself at a loose end last Wednesday and decided to take the children (5 and 1) to Fort Nelson for the Easter activities. The activities consisted of a mock gun drill which in the end, my daughter decided she didn't want to do, but she was content to watch. The recruits were put through their paces, taught commands and given wooden rifles to use during drill. They all got a turn to pretend to load and fire the cannon at the end and all of them looked to be having a great time. The man and woman running the drill were obviously enjoying themselves, having thrown themselves into character and it all ran very smoothly. The fort itself is a child's dream with ramparts to run about, and tunnels to explore. Inside there is a trail providing a history of the fort, with interactive exhibits, including dressing up and a semaphore room where you can try and send messages. We spent around 4 hours here including lunch which was in the very clean café with sandwiches made freshly to order. Lunch for the three of us came to £12 and the sandwiches came garnished with salad and crisps. In terms of pushchair access, you might struggle if you have small wheels. I have a large three wheeled buggy which copes better with rough ground than smaller strollers. If you have reins or a sling, you might be better off with that for some parts of the fort - I found that my pushchair did not fit through the door at the end of the trail, and so had to back track to find a wider door. There is one disabled lift which we used to get the pushchair down to the trail. All in all, we had a great time and my daughter is keen to go back when I can take my husband so she can explore more - I couldn't let her go too far as I couldn't follow with the pushchair. For a free attraction, this is very good.

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