Page 2 - Portsdown Defences
P. 2

Victorian Forts                                             Portsmouth                       6

                                                Fort Nelson

          Commenced            1861                                 Armament
          Completed            1870
          Cost                  £ 78,649                            1876  Approved 34 x 7-inch RBL; 2 x 64 pr.
                                                                    RML; 6 x rifled Howitzers; 16 x SB flank guns
          Map Reference        SU 607072                            1893 Mounted 10 x 7-inch RBL; 6 x 64 pr. RML;
          Position             Portsdown Hill Northern              4 x 40 pr. RBL.
                               Approaches                           Required to complete 2 x 40 pr. RBL; 8 x 32 pr.
          Type                 Land Front / Polygonal               SBBL.
          Ditch                Dry                                  1898 to be added 10 x MG
                                                                    Disarmed 1907
          Guns                 30
          Barrack Accom. 172
          Present use          Royal Armouries Museum of
                               Artillery / Hampshire C. C.
          History              Army barracks and training           Caponiers           1 full 2 demi
                               /Ammunition depot World War 2
          Disposal             Bought by H.C.C. 1978                Counterscarp        None
          Condition            Actively conserved and restored      galleries
          Access               All year
                                                                    Haxo casemates 4 (2 x double)
          Sources              Solent Papers No 3  Garry Mitchell
                                                                    Moncrieff Pits      3

          History and Description

           Fort Nelson is 2000 yards east of Fort Wallington and is a six sided fort, built of brick, chalk and
           earth, protected by a deep dry ditch, revetted on the scarp  but unrevetted on the counterscarp. This
           ditch is protected by a full fish tail shaped caponier in the salient of the main north rampart and two
           smaller demi caponiers at the shoulders. The main rampart has positions for 64 pr RMLs, 7-inch
           RBLs and 6.6-inch howitzers. Each flank also has a Haxo casemate for two 7-inch RBLs (the only
           one of the Portsdown forts to have this feature).  The intermediate range defence of the fort is from
           three mortar batteries, one to the rear of each caponier, hidden within the rampart. Each contained
           three 13-inch mortars. The lower fighting levels consist of three separate tunnels running from the
           barrack block area through the chalk of the hill to the caponiers. The centre tunnel to the full
           caponier also passes through the main magazine forty feet beneath the parade ground.The centre of
           the gorge is closed with a barrack block  and redan containing officers quarters. Access to the fort
           from the military road is on two levels each fitted with a Guthrie rolling bridge. Nelson was disarmed
           in 1907. It was occupied from 1905 to 1914 by 35 (Heavy) Battery Royal Garrison Artillery. From
           1938 the fort was extensively altered to house an area magazine. Ten huge Anti-Aircraft shell storage
           magazines were constructed on the parade.

           Hampshire County Council have completely restored the fort, with the exception of the two
           demi-caponiers and one mortar battery, and it is currently leased by the Royal Armouries as its
           Museum of Artillery. It is the home of the Palmerston Forts Society and the Society’s uniformed
           section performs authentic gun drills on the fort’s complement of Victorian armament.

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