1878: The War That Never Was

Friday 2 & Saturday 3 February

Royal Armouries, in association with Griffin Historical, present 1878: The War That Never Was.

A time-travelling promenade performance through our atmospheric Victorian fortress.

Fort Nelson was built in the 1860s during a tumultuous period in Queen Victoria’s reign. It was part of a ring of defences intended to protect the Royal Naval Dockyard in Portsmouth against a threatened French invasion.

Time travel back to the late 1870s and find out if the Fort was up to the task – in a war that never happened.

The story so far…

Buoyed by its victory against Prussia in 1871, the French superpower is set on adding Great Britain to its empire. French troops have landed and are marching on Portsmouth. The home of the British navy must be defended at all costs.
Fort Nelson’s underground garrison is waiting nervously for news of the French invasion; fending off the first exploratory attacks, and discovering that not everyone within the walls of the Victorian fort are as trustworthy as they seem…

Commenting on the event, Tristan Langlois, Head of Education and Events, said: ‘When I first explored Fort Nelson, it struck me as a slightly sad place. There it sits, the pinnacle of Victorian military engineering, and never used for its intended purpose; like a battleship in dry dock never sent to sea. Some historians avoid speculative history. But as fascinating as the Fort’s actual history is, for me the site simply begs an answer to the question: ‘What if the French really had invaded?’
‘This event will help visitors experience the answer to that question at first-hand. Not just the re-imagined historical events that might have led to invasion, but the real practicalities of getting the Victorian technology to do what it was designed for, and the hopes and fears of the soldiers and civilians inside.’

Time travellers are advised that this is a guided promenade performance through the underground tunnels and chambers of the Fort. The ground is often uneven and it gets cold down there, so please wear suitable footwear and clothing. There will be live gun-firings during the performance; ear-protectors will be available. This event is suitable for ages 14+. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult at all times. 
Performances at 5.30pm, 6pm, 6.30pm, 7.30pm, 8pm & 8.30pm
Capacity for each performance is limited to 30.

Tickets: £15.75
Tickets must be booked in advance.

Link to Royal Armouries website event page:

Eventbrite ticket link: