Friday, 22 June 2018

My Solo Visit to the Fort Nelson, Royal Armouries Poppy Wave

With the Poppies Wave Display ending on June 24th it seemed that the only way that I was going to be able to see it was to go alone.

By taking all of these photos hopefully I have a good record of the display and of my first visit to Fort Nelson & The Royal Armouries Exhibition located there.

The Visitors Brochure & Map of the Fort.

When I was much younger and the ring of Hill Forts of which Fort Nelson is only one were still occupied by troops, we would attempt to climb the ramparts unseen at both Forts Fareham & Wallington. 

In those days the Grass Moats were overgrown with Trees and Scrub Bushes and with one or two of the Gun Openings in the Caponiers available for the bravest to climb in. 

Being underground and in absolute darkness I can see today why it was so dangerous and we would avoid going too far inside. 

To look down on the Parade Ground was the limit of my explorations.

Being on the lower slopes of Portsdown Hill the view across the Harbour it was designed to protect is somewhat limited by the growth of these trees.

Once in the car park I realise that this 1805 Column dedicated to Lord Viscount Nelson is actually on this side of one of the lanes which traverse the hill. I always thought that it was on the opposite corner?

It was always an urban myth, when I was young, that the column is angled so that it faces out to where HMS Victory, Nelsons Flagship, is located in Portsmouth Dockyard. 

However this close up would suggest that Nelson could actually looking towards Cams Hall in Fareham, where it was also said that he had various 'liaisons' with Lady Hamilton, his mistress, during his visits to Portsmouth????  I remember being given this mental image from those stories told, of Nelson in Full Dress Uniform, Sleeve Tucked into his Jacket, standing proudly at the bow of a 'Whaler' boat while his crew rowed him up Portsmouth Harbour to Cams.

The Visitors Entrance to The Fort is actually through this modern addition, also camouflaged under turn. The entry charge is free with just a £3 charge for using the car park. 

Inside there is a Gift Shop and on normal days there is also a small café which I would find had been re located for the duration of the exhibition to provide a much larger facility.

Exiting the entrance on the opposite side I can now see the Gun Exhibits located outside of the fort along the Hill Top Road.

Another angle indicates the Pointed part of the fort visible on the map above. These contained Gun Emplacements which were designed to allow guns to fire across the front of the Fort to defend against approaching adversaries.

Here we cross the original Moat Bridge to where troops would access the fort on foot. A new Glass Door as been added.

Here we can see those Gun Emplacements and a very neatly kept moat. I am not sure if these moats were intended to remain Dry. 
I remember the moat at Fort Fareham always seemed to contain some water and a bog.

An interesting use of Flint and decorative brickwork on this side of the bridge is probably worthy of some investigation on another visit.

At the far end of this moat a group of wild rabbits are seen enjoying the afternoon sunshine.

Exiting the new entrance gallery this magnificent Cannon is one of a pair set either side of the doorway.

To my left is one of the inner moats which can also be seen on the map. So much to explore.

Looking ahead is the Parade Ground and part of the Inner banking. On normal opening days they fire a gun a 1pm. I wonder if this Anti Aircraft Gun ahead is one of those fired?

Now this is what I am looking for. As I had to forgo lunch at home today to find time for this visit, the café is to be my first stopping off point. It is a shame that this is a temporary facility during the exhibition as it is delightful inside.

Not wanting to photo inside this close up crop gives an indication.

Looking across the parade ground I get my first view of the Poppy wave display. 

Another mobile AA Gun lurks alongside the wall.

To access the poppy display we have to limb the ramparts using the original ramp. On the way up I notice this covered area containing work in progress among the various pieces of old equipment.

At the top of the ramp we are not only able to get up close to the Poppies but to actually get behind them.

The view across the parade ground towards the café.

The view down the ramp and back towards the entrance corner.

One of the Hill Top Gun Emplacements introduced during WW2.

Looking back over the ramparts the Union Flag is flying happily in the afternoon breeze.

Other rooms set into the hill top which I will get to later.

I am almost at the top.

There is that column again just over the way.

Ah. One of the original cannons sits in its place overlooking the Northern Approaches.

I am close enough to touch the poppies although that is not allowed.

We have to wait to allow other to be photographed 

Under the Wave

Around the back the structure is mounted on these steel plates with their unusual arrangement of perforations.

Impossible to get a people less photo it seems.

The exit rout is down the opposite ramp but I want to see what is further around the top.

From up here I get a good view of the many Gun Barrels on display.

One of the Anti Aircraft Gun Batteries built during WW2

Some Steps to explore.

These store rooms were where the Ammunition was stored for each gun emplacement.

Projectiles, The Bullet Part, Stored on the floor.

A Traversing Cannon able to be aimed across a wider area.

Another Cannon raised to be able to point down the hillside.

Set in one of those two Hill Top Rooms

At the end of the rampart I can see the hill top road over this Access Gate added during WW2

A nice view of Spinnaker Tower, despite the unavoidable pylon.

The other side of that Pointed Part seen over this gateway.

The second room in this hill top building is in fact The Blacksmiths Shop which seems an odd place to put it?