Palmerston Forts Society

PAV

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
  • 13-inch Mortar

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.

Meetings / Events

21/04/2021 - Zoom Webinar - Military Wall Art Official to Subversive

The Palmerston Forts Society, together with the Fortress Study Group and the Ordnance Society, are pleased to announce the following Zoom webinar… On the 21st April, Roger Thomas will give a talk on Military Wall Art Official to Subversive. The talk will commence at 2000hrs, and all PFS members are welcome to attend. The link has been emailed to the members but if you are unsure then contact the Membership Secretary at membership@palmerstonfortssociety.org.uk

28/04/2021 - Zoom Webinar - Norway with the CDSG Part 2

The Palmerston Forts Society, together with the Fortress Study Group and the Ordnance Society, are pleased to announce the following Zoom webinar… On the 28th April, Charles Blackwood will give a talk Norway with the CDSG Part 2. The talk will commence at 2000hrs, and all PFS members are welcome to attend. The link has been emailed to the members but if you are unsure then contact the Membership Secretary at membership@palmerstonfortssociety.org.uk

05/05/2021 - Zoom Webinar - the Sixteenth Century fortifications of Antwerp Part 1.

The Palmerston Forts Society, together with the Fortress Study Group and the Ordnance Society, are pleased to announce the following Zoom webinar… On the 5th May, John Harris will give a talk on the Sixteenth Century fortifications of Antwerp Part 1. The talk will commence at 2000hrs, and all PFS members are welcome to attend. The link has been emailed to the members but if you are unsure then contact the Membership Secretary at membership@palmerstonfortssociety.org.uk

News

Fort Nelson reopens on 12th April

Fort Nelson will be open from 12 April 2021. Once again, visitors will be able to enjoy the panoramic views from the fort’s ramparts, The galleries will then be opened on May 17th as the Covid restrictions are relaxed. Although the main café will not be open, the snack bar will be open with plenty of picnic space. Social distancing and various other forms of safety control will be in place, and so the number of people on site can be managed it is necessary to book advance for the timed daily sessions. Admission is free but on-site car parking incurs a small charge. Disappointingly, it looks as if there are no plans for live firings in 2021. Nigel Hosier, the Operations Manager, is quoted: "The guns have been silent for more than a year now but we have big plans for their return in 2022. They are the life, sight and smell of the fort. We plan to revamp and remodel how we do it." For advance booking check the Royal Armouries website: https://royalarmouries.org/venue/fort-nelson/

Fort Gilkicker - interesting news (perhaps)

Interesting news about FORT GILKICKER (perhaps) The Fort Gilkicker Information Group today reports: “………. I just wanted to update you with an important piece of news I have been informed of today. Two reliable sources of information have told me that contracts have been exchanged very recently for Gilkicker which means that the fort now possibly has a new owner and work is again going to commence very soon. I am awaiting a final reply from …….regarding this issue but will keep you all updated accordingly. …….” We will keep you posted on this one !
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PFS Official Statement regarding Hurst Castle

At this morning's PFS Committee, the catastrophe that had struck the East Wing Battery of Hurst Castle was discussed. The committee felt it appropriate that an official public statement should be made.
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Hurst Castle Front Seaward-Facing Wall Collapse

Terrible news form Hurst Castle as the front seaward-facing wall collapses due to coastal erosion. A report from the BBC news website follows....
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Exciting news about Eastney Fort East

Earlier this week, a delegation from the Palmerston Forts Society met with the new owners of the site of the former Royal Marines Museum which includes the battery. The owners plan to develop the site into Portsmouth's first five star hotel. We were invited to discuss options for the future of the battery site.
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Amazon Smile

The PFS have registered with Amazon Smile. If you use Amazon why not use Amazon Smile instead, there is no difference to you as the customer, but for every £1 you spend, those nice folk at Amazon will give the PFS a ha'penny!
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