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

23/10/2019 - The History of Winchester - Bishops, Buildings and Bones

Another fascinating talk from local historian Andrew Negus, this time on the history of Winchester.
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27/11/2019 - The Eagle Divided - A Tour of 19th Century Russian and Prussian Fortifications in Poland

A talk by PFS member Lewis Sharp of his 2018 tour of 19th Century Russian and Prussian Fortifications in Poland.

26/02/2020 - The Black and Tans and the Anglo-Irish War

2020 marks the centenary of the deployment of the para-military police force - the Black and Tans - in Ireland. Their indiscriminate and heavy-handed methods succeeded in dragging the IRA to the negotiating table but alienated the majority of the law-abiding Irish population. The talk on this fascinating and generally forgotten subject will be given by PFS member Richard Willcocks

News

Redan 80 Availability

The 2019 issue of The Redan has been received from the printers, and will be distributed to members who attend this year's AGM on the 12th October. A general mail out to members who have renewed will commence from the 14th October.

Peter Ashley Activity Centres: Fort Widley Heritage Evening - 4th October 2019

The Peter Ashley Activity Centre at Fort Widley will be open for a unique evening on Friday 4th October with a tour of the Secret Nuclear Bunker. The two hour guided tour begins at 6.30 pm and will include access to the Nuclear Civil Defence Bunker and a talk about the changes to civil defence since the 1950s. The cost is £15 per person and does include refreshments, including Pompey Pals Ale. To book call Lydia on 02392 321223 or email: lydia@peterashleyactivitycentres.co.uk
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Fort Cumberland Heritage Open Days

Fort Cumberland Heritage Open Days will be from Friday 13th September to Monday 16th September. Full details and tickets are available on the website: www.heritageopendays.org.uk/visiting/event/fort-cumberland1
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