11. Main Magazine

Ammunition for the fort's armament was stored deep beneath the parade in two large chambers that served as the main magazine.Here they were safe from an enemy bombardment, protected by the chalk of the hill. Each chamber originally held 2,450 barrels of black powder, 100lbs to a barrel, stored on racks in bays.

By the 1880s forts no longer stored powder in barrels. Instead they held made-up cartridges which were in turn stored in metal lined cases on the racking in the main cartridge store. The other magazine chamber was converted for use as a shell store.

Fort Nelson's Main Magazine could hold 450 metal lined cases in the cartridge store and 2000 shells in the shell store. The metal lined case for the 7-inch R.B.L. held 8 rounds of 10lb charge whilst the one for the 64pr R.M.L. held 14 rounds of the 8.25lb charge.

Ammunition was issued from the main magazine, in time of need, for storage closer to the guns on the main ramparts in expense magazines.

north caponier

Tp protect the ammunition from accidental explosion the magazines were under magazine regulations. This meant that all lighting was placed in special lamp recesses behind thick plate glass protected with brass wire frames. Soldiers whose duties were in the main magazines, fixing fuses, filling shells and cartridges, were required to work in special magazine working uniforms. They were required to enter and leave the magazine via special shifting lobbies to prevent grit and metal objects from entering the magazines.

Fort Nelson, the central passage of the Main Magazine.


Main Magazine Plan1

The original layout of the Main Magazine to hold powder barrels


Main Magazine Plan2

The revised layout for the storage of cartridges and shells seperately

Fort Nelson, Plan of the Main Magazine, original layout for storage of powder.


Fort Nelson, The Main Magazine revised plan for the storage cartridges and shells, post 1888.
Fort Nelson, The Main Magazine central passage looking south, with magazine chambers to the right and Examining and Shifting rooms to the left.
Magazine wall lamp in its protected lamp recess behind a brass frame to prevent the glass being broken
The ammunition winch at the foot of the spiral stair to the ramparts. This spiral staircase is half way along the tunnel to the centre caponier. It exits at the foot of the north rampart.
The ammunition winch used to haul cartridges and shells up to the gun positions on the ramparts of the fort.

Main Magazine


north caponier north caponier north caponier

Magazine wall lamp in its protected lamp recess

The ammunition winch at the foot of the spiral stair to the ramparts

The ammunition winch