a Picturesque Village in the county of Northumberland
in the county of County Durham
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Fort Nelson is situated on, and in, Portsdown Hill which overlooks
It forms part of a ring of fortifications surrounding Portsmouth built
during the 1860s which were built to protect Britain's' premier Naval Port
from perceived attack by enemy [French] forces landing along the south
coast and seeking to subdue Portsmouth by the "back door".
To aid this defence all trees and scrub on Portsdown Hill were felled to
remove any possible cover or concealment for attackers and to provide what
we now call "Killing Fields"
The potential field of killing fire can be seen from several views in the
An attack by sea was nigh on impossible because of might and strength of
the Royal Navy
The fortifications were unfortunately rendered obsolete by advances in
weaponry before they were finished, the rifled gun barrel and explosive
shot / shell being two examples of this. The fortifications rapidly
acquired the sobriquet of Palmerston's Follies
The Fort did however continue to play a role in both World Wars. Much of it
was tunnelled into Portsdown Hill during original construction to provide
magazines for explosives. These old tunnels, dug by Welsh miners, provide
defence from air attack, which although never in the minds of the builders
it does very well
Post war the fort gradually fell into disrepair but was refurbished &
gained a new use when it became part of Royal Armouries as a museum for
Guns and artillery plus associated displays
Information provided by Michael Wright
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