Fort Nelson puts the big guns on show

ON SHOW An anti-aircraft gun is manoeuvred into position in the new gallery at the Royal Armouries Musuem.     (112391-1673)
ON SHOW An anti-aircraft gun is manoeuvred into position in the new gallery at the Royal Armouries Musuem. (112391-1673)

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WEIGHING in at a whopping five tonnes, this heavy anti-aircraft gun was the first to take its place in the new gallery at the Royal Armouries Museum at Fort Nelson.

After being lowered down on a winch, it was the first of 14 of the museum’s largest guns to be moved into the gallery, dubbed The Voice of the Guns.

The new main hall forms a major part of the Portsdown Hill museum’s £3.5m revamp.

Engineering firm Beck & Pollitzer will be moving the guns, many weighing several tonnes, including the massive Iraqi Supergun, from their old home on site.

Sean Mannie, head of Royal Armouries South, said: ‘It’s particularly fitting that we’re starting with anti-aircraft guns because in the Second World War, Fort Nelson supplied ammunition to the AA batteries that defended the south coast.

‘These weapons gave the local civilian population hope and a sense of fighting back as they suffered through the blitzes of 1940 and 1941.’

Project manager Karen Whitting added: ‘It’s such a thrill to see the guns moving in. It feels like a landmark moment for the project. It will be a lot more interactive than before and we’re just getting it right and ready for the public now.’

Other major improvements will include a new visitor centre, cafe, education centre and extended parking.

The new-look museum opens to the public on August 6.