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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Fortress Visit Report No.5, Return to Fort Nelson

FORTRESS VISIT REPORT NO.5

RETURN VISIT TO FORT NELSON, PORTSMOUTH, UK.

DATE : 30th November 2012.

I wanted to return to Fort Nelson carrying a better camera with a larger capacity battery. On my first visit, I paid for an excellent guided tour with one of the volunteers. On this second visit, I wanted to explore some of the fortifications in greater depth.

The Fort has three mortar batteries, North, East and West. These photographs are of the North Mortar Battery.

Wooden plan relief of the fort, with the North Mortar Battery in the obtuse angle.






The battery has three 13inch mortars in undercover shelters. The mortars would be loaded then manhandled into position using levers. Firing would have been slow and very noisy, with the bang reverberating off the brick walls and with a considerable amount of smoke from the gunpowder charge. The crew would have been deafened and blinded.

If the enemy pressed home their attack through the mortar barrage, they would have come out of the mortars' fire. The mortar crews would then pick up their rifles, leave the battery and man the firing platform up the steps in the fourth photo. This is the firing platform.


This is the view from the receiving side of the firing platform
At the back of the Battery is a spiral staircase to gain access to the Main Tunnel and then to the North Caponier and Flanking Galleries..




The Caponier has two floors, the ground floor having four 32 pounder guns.

The caponier was fitted with eight muzzle loading guns firing case-shot. These were replaced in the 1880's with four 32 pounder guns that had been converted to breech-loading, still firing case-shot, the effect being like a giant shotgun.

Flanking galleries allowed local defence of the Caponier by riflemen.

Access to most of the external positions is restricted in winter to allow those areas to recover. However, a 25pounder cannon is fired everyday on the Parade.



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