Fort Nelson museum’s new look wins it a pair of awards

AWARDS Volunteer Jade Gratton in the new hall at the Royal Armouries at Fort Nelson. Picture: Steve Reid (113892-312)
AWARDS Volunteer Jade Gratton in the new hall at the Royal Armouries at Fort Nelson. Picture: Steve Reid (113892-312)
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A MUSEUM has scooped a brace of awards for its new look.

The £3.5m scheme to transform Fort Nelson on Portsdown Hill has won two top awards from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

Last year’s project – which saw the Victorian fort developed in an innovative way – won the judges’ praise, particularly for the glass-sided Voice of the Guns gallery which houses 14 of the most iconic exhibits in the Royal Armouries’ national collection of artillery.

The Royal Armouries won the RIBA Downland Regional Award for Architectural Excellence and the RIBA South Conservation Award, recognising the project’s architectural preservation and enhancement of the fort as a scheduled monument.

The winning citation read: ‘Fort Nelson is essentially a glorified but glorious lean-to against the massive fortifications that make up this Victorian gun fort overlooking Portsmouth Harbour.

‘Beautifully designed by Pringle Richards Sharratt, the timber structure is almost an exhibit in itself.

‘The design involved turning the museum on its head by creating an entrance across an existing drawbridge.

‘The adjoining new visitor facility provides, for the first time, an adequate shop and refreshment area for the growing number of visitors.’

Museum director Peter Armstrong said: ‘Congratulations to everyone involved – this is a huge achievement.

‘We succeeded in transforming the fort into a museum with guaranteed wow factor – while protecting and enhancing the historic building. All the feedback has been positive and the judges obviously agreed.

‘All credit to our architects Pringle Richards Sharratt too, who designed the state-of-the-art Voice of the Guns Gallery, plus new visitor centre. A great team effort all round.’

The museum is free to enter and is open daily.