Stepping back in time is fascinating for kids

BLAST Lilly Watts, 6, and her brother Liam Watts, 11, from Fareham, load the gunpowder in the 1813 cannon. Picture: Sarah Standing (122500-3209)
BLAST Lilly Watts, 6, and her brother Liam Watts, 11, from Fareham, load the gunpowder in the 1813 cannon. Picture: Sarah Standing (122500-3209)

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YOUNGSTERS have been treading in the footsteps of Victorian soldiers at Fort Nelson.

The fort on Portsdown Hill near Fareham has been giving children the opportunity to fire a bronze field cannon dating from the 19th Century.

The Royal Armouries’ education team has devised the activity to teach young people about the Victorian fort’s history and the troops who lived and worked there.

The gun drill allows people to learn the different aspects of it, both during a practice loading session and then working against the clock.

Lee Watts, 39, from Fareham, took his two children Liam, 11, and Lilly, 6, down to visit the Fort.

He said: ‘We went down there because my kids love it there. They thoroughly enjoyed the day.

‘My two are really hands on. They loved the loading of the guns.

‘It’s brilliant and it’s free. It’s good for the kids to learn that sort of thing.

‘They don’t seem to learn that in school nowadays.’

Maria Smith, 42, from Southsea, visited the Fort with her two daughters Mathilda, five, and Aine, eight.

She added: ‘My daughters love it there. They love all the underground tunnels and all the outdoor space.

‘They were taught how to load the cannon and they had a quick go at doing it.

‘The tunnels are exciting when you are little.

‘There are lots of places to explore.’

Volunteers at the fort also dressed up in Victorian-style clothes.

Nigel Hosier, operations manager at Fort Nelson, said: ‘We have Victorian activities going on because it’s a Victorian fort so it’s a great site for that.

‘It’s a great backdrop for that kind of thing.

‘It’s wonderful to see the artillery and the guns but I think the fort is something people are intrigued by.

‘It’s about bringing history to life. If we have got people in costume and character, not only do people learn something but they enjoy it. It gives it a bit of atmosphere.’

To find out more about activities at Fort Nelson, visit


· Spend a day at the races at the second of the famous five-day festival Glorious Goodwood Races, at Goodwood, near Chichester. Each of the days finishes with live music and dancing. Open 9am to 5pm. For more information call (01243) 755022.

· Visit Westbury Manor Museum in Fareham to find out some stories about the Olympic Games.

The best athletes and sportspeople in the world are showcased in this new exhibition that tells some of the amazing stories of the Games.

Children can discover the history of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, learn about their traditions and origins and find out about the sporting heroes who are the stars of these iconic events. Call (01329) 822063.

· Visit the Gosport Discovery Centre to take part in Olympic-themed activities for all the family. Take part in games and quizzes and take a look at the Olympic exhibition panels. Admission is free. Call (023) 9252 3463.

· See an exhibition of Marine Art paintings at the Gosport Gallery. The paintings are by renowned Gosport artist Colin Baxter. Admission is free. To find out more, call (023) 9252 3463.

· Visit Portsmouth Golf Centre where reduced cost lessons are offered for children. There is a chance to take part in competitions and join the Tiger Club. It caters for all skill levels from complete beginners to budding professionals. Lessons are £3 each. Visit or call (023) 9266 4549 for more.

· Visit the National Museum of the Royal Navy and find out about sea voyage adventures. Children can discover the land of the Vikings and try writing their names in ancient runes. Call (023) 9272 7587 for more.·

· Younger children can go trampolining at the Mountbatten Centre. It’s for children aged between three and five and is £4.85 per child.