The Royal Armouries

Redevelopment of Fort Nelson

Fort Nelson near Portsmouth, Hampshire is home to the Royal Armouries’ collection of artillery – one of the finest and largest collections of historic cannon in the world. The redeveloped Fort Nelson will be a regional and national treasure which has the potential to become an international showpiece.

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Details Over the past six years, the success of the Museum has led to the increase in visitor numbers from 40,000 to 90,000. The physical layout and size of galleries, education and visitor facilities are no longer able to cope with demand, causing us to have to turn down education visits and control annual visitor numbers down to manageable levels of 76,000. To maximise the potential and popularity of the Fort, a £3.5 million redevelopment programme is planned which will provide the resources and additional scope to attract new audiences and increase educational capacity, as well as bringing the history of the Fort to life to inform, challenge and entertain. In 2011, on completion of the development, Fort Nelson will welcome 100,000+ visitors. The future redevelopment of Fort Nelson is centred on three key developments: the Visitor Centre, the Orienteur and the Classroom of the Future. Visitor Centre To maximise the location of the Fort and the views over Portsmouth Harbour, a new Visitor Centre will be built outside the walls of the Fort. The creation of the new Visitor Centre will provide much-needed facilities for visitors to Fort Nelson and those visiting the area and beyond, offering spectacular views over Portsmouth Harbour, picnic areas, refreshments and tourist information. It will be an earth-covered structure which blends seamlessly into the environment, from which visitors can appreciate the panoramic views. The Orienteur At the heart of the entire development is a new gallery structure – the Orienteur. This glass-sided structure will provide a superb and imposing vista of the Fort on approach and will provide vital introductory information to the site and its collection as well as providing environmentally stable display conditions and dramatically improving access for all. A select number of our historic great guns will be displayed here, from the Great Turkish Bombard of 1463 to the Iraqi ‘Supergun’. Classroom of the Future The Classroom of the Future is the hub of all activity and the highlight of the changes to educational facilities at Fort Nelson. It will create an immediate ‘wow’ factor for learners by utilising the latest digital technology to project contemporary film and sound of the use of artillery and fortifications onto the new ‘holoscreens’ providing a noisy and dramatic welcome to excite students. For example a First World War themed session could have students walking into big screen video film of soldiers going ‘over the top’ to the sound of the big guns firing and soldiers singing ‘Tipperary’. The Royal Armouries acknowledges the importance of IT in engaging the learning community and the need for heritage education to keep up-to-date with the latest developments in the formal sector under the ‘Building Schools for the Future’ programme. The Classroom of the Future will be equipped with interactive Smart-boards and portable technology, allowing users to explore the site and record sound and picture files that can be reviewed before being taken off-site for class use elsewhere at a later date. Bringing hand-held technology to Fort Nelson will engage schools in a fresh and exciting way. Pupils will collect data as they explore and will be prompted in stages to analyse their findings. Fort Nelson was constructed to protect Southern Hampshire from possible French invasion from the landward side so typical activities could involve asking the children to imagine that they are French spies with a mission to prepare a secret document for Napoleon advising him where to attack the Fort, or to be the British military adviser writing a report for Queen Victoria giving an opinion as to the current strengths and weaknesses of Fort Nelson’s defences. These exciting technologies enhance the quality of the visit to Fort Nelson and encourage the students to further develop their transferable skills, whilst at the same time improving their knowledge of this particular period of history. This is a wholly new approach which will complement our traditional, hands-on offer perfectly. Budget for Redevelopment of Fort Nelson, Royal Armouries Project cost £3,500,000 Funds secured to-date £3,115,000( includes a successful HLF bid of £2 million). We now need your support to raise the additional funding.