Meetings / Events
25/04/2018 - Queen Victoria's Forgotten Navy - Part III - Tragedy and Triumph.... and Tragedy
PFS member James Doherty continues the story of how the Royal Navy developed during the reign of Queen Victoria.
28/04/2018 - PAV Recruiting Day
The Portsdown Artillery Volunteers are looking for new recruits. Why not come along to Fort Nelson on Saturday 28th April to see what is involved in this unique hobby.
23/05/2018 - The Enigma of Bletchley Park
A talk by PFS member Graham Walters about the work of the code breakers at Bletchley Park during the Second World War.
PAV Recruitment Days - 28th April & 26th May 2018
Uniformed members of the PAV will be in the 'Voice of the Guns' at Fort Nelson on Saturdays 28th April & 26th May 2017 to encourage members of the public to join the PFS and, if suitable, the PAV.
All PFS members are welcome to come along to give the boys their support.
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Due to the anticipated bad weather and very low temperatures the PFS evening meeting on the 28th February is cancelled. We hope to re-schedule the talk on 'Queen Victoria's Forgotten Navy' to a date later this year.
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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.