Meetings / Events
26/04/2017 - The Opium Wars
Early in Queen Victoria's reign Britain was engaged in wars over trade disputes in China. This generally forgotten but fascinating period of history is the subject of a talk by PFS member Martin Franklin.
24/05/2017 - To Be Advised
28/06/2017 - Die Todliche 88: Entwurf, Einsatz und Ableben
The Deadly 88: Design, Deployment and Demise!
Phil Magrath, Curator at Fort Nelson, tell the story of the deadly German 88mm gun, perhaps one of the finest artillery pieces of the Second World War.
The PFS Committee is pleased to advise the membership that 2016 edition of The Redan is now being distributed, those to our overseas members having been just been mailed. The Redan to our UK members will be mailed on the 27th February.
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Visit to Fort Burgoyne
A note for your diaries - 23rd September 2017. The PFS day outing for this year has been confirmed as Fort Burgoyne at Dover. As normal, a coach will be hired for the day, departing and returning to/from Fort Nelson. Details and timings have yet to be arranged
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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.