Fort Nelson houses the Royal Armouries’ collection of artillery and historic cannon – the Big Guns – with over 350 on display, including the massive 200-tonne railway gun.
This vast Victorian fortification, with panoramic views of the Solent and Meon Valley, was built in the 1860s as part of a defensive chain around Portsmouth and its vital Royal Dockyard. It is probably the best surviving example of a Victorian fortress and has been restored to its original 19th-century state, together with parts of its Second World War history.
Visitors can explore 19 acres of ramparts and outer fortifications, plus secret underground tunnels and ammunition bunkers, and discover what life was like for the Victorian garrison in the barrack rooms, hospital and kitchen.
Museum galleries include The Voice of the Guns and Artillery Hall, which display an extensive collection of icon guns from around the world, from medieval wall-smashers to 20th-century weaponry.
Daily events include guided tours and a big gun salute at 1pm. Cafe 1871 serves drinks, snacks and light meals.
There are school holiday activities and special gun-firing events throughout the year. Please visit our website for more information.
Guided Tours: Adults: £3, Under 16: free
April until October: 10am – 5pm
Last admission 4pm
November until March: 10am – 4pm
Last admission 3pm
Closed 24, 25 and 26 December
Exit M27 motorway from Junction 11. Follow brown tourist signs for ‘Royal Armouries’.
Nearest train stations:
Portchester – 3 minutes away by taxi
Fareham – 10 minutes away by taxi
Havant – 20 minutes away by taxi
Fort Nelson is one of the few places where you can experience live black-powder firings of historic artillery pieces.
Daily gun firing: One of the big guns is fired in salute every day at 1pm.
On selected Sundays throughout the year there are special firings, featuring authentic gun drills by uniformed detachments from Portsdown Artillery Volunteers. These events are free and everyone is welcome.
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