Meetings / Events
27/02/2019 - Commander 'Buster' Crabb - What Really Happened?
A fascinating talk by Dr. John Bevan of the Historical Diving Society who will provide an expert analysis of the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Commander Crabb during a spying mission on a Russian warship in Portsmouth Harbour in April 1956.
27/03/2019 - Queen Victoria's Forgotten Navy - Part IV
PFS member James Doherty concludes the story of how the Royal Navy developed during the reign of Queen Victoria.
24/04/2019 - A Short Biography of the English Channel
Details to follow. Speaker: Iain Kennedy
The 2018 issue of The Redan is now available, and will be distributed to members who attend this year's AGM on the 13th October. A general mail out to members who have renewed will commence from the 15th October.
...> read more
The development of Fort Gilkicker
to create 26 exclusive beach-side homes has come to a halt, yet again.
According to the Portsmouth News Fort Gilkicker is back on the market after the
investors pull out. Developer Andrew Temperton said "...the investors from
Malaysia see it as a very small scheme and don't want the hassle anymore, so
are moving on to other projects. Personally I am very disappointed... My main
frustrations are with problems we had with Historic England and that I'm not
able to see the project through to the end."
...> read more
PAV Events Programme 2018:
The uniformed section of the Society is the Portsdown Artillery Volunteers (PAV) who dress as the 2nd Hampshire Volunteer Artillery from the 1880’s to carry out authentic Victorian gun drills at Fort Nelson.
The original Volunteer corps was initially raised following a decision taken by the War Office in 1859. The decision allowed for Light Horse (Cavalry), Artillery, Engineers, Mounted Rifles and Rifle units to be formed using men from the general public to form an Army of "amateur soldiers”. Without the use of part-time gunners, it was impossible for the War Office to have provided sufficient artillerymen to man all of the Forts built in the 1860’s following the Royal Commission’s report.
At its peek the Volunteer Artillery movement had a maximum strength of 49,062 efficient soldiers spread across many of the counties of Great Britain. The 2nd Hampshire Volunteers were the local Portsmouth unit, and they would have drawn their membership from all sorts of trades with a number coming from the Dockyard.
The Artillery Volunteers ceased to exist on the 31st March 1908 when the Territorial Force was formed, the precursor to today’s Territorial Army.
The PAV draw its membership from the PFS in a similar way to the original volunteers. Most members have no knowledge of forces life, which is an advantage as the Victorian drills are very different from those used today. Using original drill manuals the PAV is able to demonstrate Victorian gun firings to the public – probably the best way to explain why the Victorian Forts were built. The Society is fortunate to have a very high level of cooperation from the Royal Armouries at Fort Nelson, who actively support the firing of selected guns at the museum, including:
16 pr. Rifled Muzzle Loader field gun
32 pr Smooth Bore Breech Loader
64 pr. Rifled Muzzle Loaders
7-inch Armstrong Rifled Breech Loader
Fortunately for the members of the PAV they are able to fire the guns a lot more often than the original Artillery Volunteers ever did, as the Victorian government was very frugal when it came to supplying ammunition to the Volunteers.
If you are interested in joining the PAV and demonstrating this forgotten part of Britain’s history, we are always looking for new members. Uniforms and training are provided, but you must be a member of the PFS to take advantage of this very interesting and unusual hobby.