Victorian Barracks recreated at Fort Nelson Museum, Portsmouth

One of the defensive forts built by Lord Palmerston in the 1860s, Fort Nelson is home to the national collection of canon and artillery pieces part of the Royal Armouries Collection, formerly housed at the Tower of London.

Built during the 1860s by Lord Palmerston, Fort Nelson forms part of a chain of defences built around Portsmouth, to protect Portsmouth Dockyard, home of the Royal Navy, from attack by the French.

These defences included a string of forts along Portsdown Hill, the four Solent Sea Forts built in the Solent and forts and defencive improvements at Portsmouth Harbour, Gosport and the Isle of Wight.

Fort nelson is probably one of the best preserved examples of a Victorian fortress that you can visit. The fort has recently undergone a multi-million pound redevelopment programme improving it's already impressive facilities. The new facilities include a purpose built new visitor centre, cafe 1871, fantastic new displays and galleries including the magnificent Voice of the Guns display.


Fort Nelson is a beautifully preserved brick built Victorian fortress retaining historic architecture of it's time, plus some aspects of it's Second World War heritage is also evident. But in addition to this Fort Nelson boasts the following:

  • A breath taking glass-sided gallery - The Voice of the Guns - showcasing some of the Royal Armouries' most famous exhibits.
  • Exciting galleries, telling the history of the fort and the people and stories that shaped history.
  • State-of-the-art education centre - allowing children to see the past spring to life in a historic setting, but harnessing the latest technology.
  • Visitor centre - including Cafe 1871, which is open to passers-by and walkers.
Interactive displays at Fort Nelson Museum, Portsmouth

Fort Nelson is home to the Royal Armouries national collection of artillery - the Big Guns. This unique Victorian Fort has undergone a £3.5m redevelopment to create a museum fit for the 21st Century.

Admission and parking are free, offering a great day out for all the family during the school holidays, and all year round.

Every day, visitors can see one of the big guns being fired and explore secret underground tunnels and enjoy incredible views from the ramparts. An extensive programme of special event spectaculars takes place throughout the year.

Fort Nelson is also licensed for weddings and has a large range of function rooms for private or corporate hire.


Fort Nelson is open every day except 24th, 25th and 26th December.
Summer (April to October 10am - 5pm (last admission 4pm),
Winter (November - March) 10.30am - 4pm (last admission 3pm).

Admission is free, although there are admission charges for special events.

Address: Fort Nelson, Portsdown Hill Road, Fareham, Hants, PO17 6AN
Telephone: 01329 233734

Photo of the outer defensive wall and ditch at Fort Nelson, Portsmouth Photo of a 25 pounder gun being fired, at the Royal Armouries Museum, Fort Nelson, Portsmouth