Gun which fired first shot of the war at sea finds new home

Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson. Pictute: LPhot Ioan Roberts

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ALMOST 100 years ago, this four-inch gun fired the first shot at sea at the start of the First World War.

Now the weapon from HMS Lance has been given a new home in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard as part of a new exhibition.

A 3.6 tonne, 5 metre long gun which fired the first shot of the war at sea in 1914 is lowered into place by crane as a major new �4.5m exhibition takes shape at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

A 3.6 tonne, 5 metre long gun which fired the first shot of the war at sea in 1914 is lowered into place by crane as a major new �4.5m exhibition takes shape at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Dockyard visitors stopped and watched as the 3.6-tonne weapon was lowered into place by crane yesterday.

It has been positioned in the middle of an under-construction glass walkway, which will join two buildings together.

Project director Matthew Sheldon said: ‘I feel a real sense of relief seeing it in place.

‘It’s going to make a statement as it’s something very different.

‘The gun is a powerful way to start telling the story of the last 100 years of the Royal Navy.

‘It should be back by the sea.’

When the First World War broke out at 11pm on August 4, 1914, HMS Lance and her sister ship HMS Landrail were tasked with performing a sweep of the North Sea.

The next day, the two destroyers encountered German minelayer Konigin Luise setting mines off the Dutch 
coast.

HMS Lance fired a shell from her gun, eventually sinking her.

The semi-automatic naval gun weighs 3.6 tonnes.

It has been loaned by the Imperial War Museum.

The gun will now be covered up to protect it while work continues on the glass walkway.

The new exhibition is called HMS – Hear My Story.

It will give voice to the men, women and ships which have made the navy’s history over the last 100 years.

The exhibition is expected to open in the spring of 2014.

Mr Sheldon added: ‘We should finish the building in another three months’ time.

‘And we’ll be doing lots of things in the meantime like activity days so people can see what’s going on.

‘It’s a pretty busy time and everyone is working flat out.’

The new exhibition space and 
galleries will be named the Babcock Galleries.

The project to build the Babcock Galleries, which will house the HMS exhibition and another new temporarydisplay, will cost £4.5m.

The Heritage Lottery Fund provided £1.4m for the construction.

The National Museum of the Royal Navy remains open to visitors during the works.