THE public are being invited to share their memories of an historic fort which could become part of an exhibition to mark its £3.5m revamp.
They are being asked to get in touch with any stories, pictures or memorabilia relating to Fort Nelson, which now houses the Royal Armouries Museum on Portsdown Hill, near Fareham.
Whatever is sent in could be used to help tell the story of the fort in galleries and on the Royal Armouries’ website, as further development of the revamped museum continues over the next few years.
The fort has had a colourful history after being built in 1860s as one of ‘Palmerston’s Follies’ – and although it has never seen a shot fired in anger it was used for billets during the First World War before falling derelict during the 1960s and eventually becoming a museum in 1994.
Sean Mannie, head of Royal Armouries South, said: ‘We know from talking to our many visitors that local people hold Fort Nelson in great affection and it has played a major role in the life and defence of south Hampshire for over 140 years.
‘We’re keen to talk to anyone who’s either served at Fort Nelson, or has any connection, memories and especially photographs to share.
‘We are sure there are some fantastic, colourful stories out there, waiting to be told.’
One local resident who has already been in touch is Shirley Weyman, from Portchester, who was courting her future husband Derek when they first discovered Fort Nelson in 1965. She said: ‘We loved to come up here and imagine what it would have looked like if we could have gone back in time before the housing estates were built. The views are so amazing. I felt delighted to think that the old fort was going to be put to such good use for the enjoyment of the public and not turned into a trading estate. I was most impressed on my first visit to the museum.
‘The fort is one of those landmarks that make this area special.’
If you have a story to tell, contact the curator of artillery, Phil Magrath at Phil.Magrath@armouries.org.uk or call 01329 233734. The redevelopment project includes a new visitor centre, parking facilities, new galleries and a state-of-the art education facility. It should be completed this summer.