Meetings / Events
22/11/2017 - The French Navy 1840 to 1900: the Strategy of the Weak
A talk by PFS member Geoff Hallett on the development of the French Navy through the second half of the nineteeth century.
24/01/2018 - Members' Photos Evening
PFS members are invited to share their fortification photographs with those at the meeting.
28/02/2018 - Queen Victoria's Forgotten Navy - Part III
PFS member James Doherty continues the story of how the Royal Navy developed during the reign of Queen Victoria.
News Update - The 2017 issue of The Redan is now available, having been distributed to members who attended this year's AGM on the 14th October. A general mail out to members who have renewed will commence from the 16th October.
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The Western Heights Preservation Society are pleased to announce
their Spring Open Weekend. On the 20th and 21st May the
Drop Redoubt fort and Grand Shaft staircase will be open to explore from 10:00 –
17:00 both days.
...> read more
PAV Events Programme 2017:
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.