Remembrance Centre to open within months

Fort Widley
Fort Widley
The Princess Royal talks to Samantha Cooper, third left, at a reception at St James' Palace

St John Ambulance volunteer from Gosport meets royal

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WORK has begun on creating a unique Remembrance Centre in time to tie in with and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War.

It will be housed inside Fort Widley on Portsdown Hill, overlooking Portsmouth.

The World War One Remembrance Centre is being created to bring together collections of items and experiences from the period of 1912 to 1939, but focusing mostly on the period 1914 to 1918.

The plan was conceived by local historian, Charles Haskell who, with his colleague Chris Pennycook and a small dedicated team of enthusiasts, has turned an idea into a reality.

Mr Haskell said: ‘The centre has the blessing and support of many Portsmouth councillors, as well as the trustees of the fort.

‘I am delighted that we have been able to harness that level of support for this unique project.

‘I’m passionate about the First World War battlefields, and I think everyone should see them at least once, which is how I came to this project. It has been my money that has gone into this project, but we have been getting help from a lot of people.

‘We don’t want it to cost the taxpayer a single penny.’

The timeline of the displays will start with the pre-war days and travel through to the late 1930s and the start of the Second World War.

It will embrace the stories of the Army and individual battalions and of people from the south.

There will also be information and displays relating to the Royal Navy, the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service.

A regular series of temporary exhibitions will feature a wide diversity of topics from the First World War.

Part of the centre will include a recreation of the trenches soldiers endured on the front line.

Mr Haskell added: ‘We want to create a walk-through trench to give people an idea of what it was like, and an artist has done a superb painting of no-man’s land for it.’

Anyone wishing to help with this project as a volunteer or to donate pictures, items or documents go to or email

It is hoped the centre will be open in early April.