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Explosion! Museum of Naval Firepower

Location

Hampshire Map

OS Ref: SU 616 011

Last Visited: 2016

I have to admit that Explosion - Museum of Naval Firepower and I did not get along. It didn't help that when I walked up to the ticket desk the young man behind it looked at me and said, "What do you want?". I resisted the temptation to ask him if he could spare me the price of a cup of tea, and eventually persuaded him to sell me a ticket.

It is interesting to contrast this place with the Museum of Army Flying. There, along with an interesting display of Army aeroplanes, they detail the various campaigns the Army Air Corps have been involved in and commemorate those who died during those campaigns.

The Big Guns

The Big Guns

According to the Explosion - Museum of Naval Firepower web site, "Nor are the human, social and moral consequences of warfare forgotten ...". I must have missed that bit, but then I was more interested in the history of the former Naval Armaments Depot and the Priddy's Hard site than in the armaments and skimmed over some of the displays.

As far as I could see it was mainly a celebration of heavy weaponry with plenty for the kids to do. "Come on kids, let's go and play with the big guns!" It's got a silly name as well.

For details of opening times, admission prices, etc. please see the official site.

The Grand Magazine

The Grand Magazine

In the 1760s the residents of Portsmouth petitioned King George III requesting the removal of the powder magazine in the Square Tower to a less densely populated area.

As a result in 1771 the magnificent Grand Magazine was built at Priddy’s Hard, on land leased mainly from one Jane Pridhay. There had been a fort on this site since 1757 enclosed by bastioned earthworks that shows up clearly on the satellite imagery, but which are not accessible to the public.

Inside the Grand Magazine

Inside the Grand Magazine

The Grand Magazine was designed to store 4,500 barrels of gunpowder, and was the first time Britain separated its gunpowder stores from its ordnance stores. It has walls 8 ft (2.4 m) thick, and a twin vaulted brick roof to provide protection from indirect fire.

Bizarrely, these days the interior is decked out in fairy lights. Normally there is some sort of audio-visual thing going on; fortunately it was broken when I visited.