EXPLOSION! MUSEUM OF NAVAL FIREPOWER
The story of naval warfare is told in dramatic style at Explosion, Gosport, an interactive museum housed in the Royal Navy’s former Ordnance Depot at Priddy’s Hard, centred around the powder magazine designed in 1771.
Priddy’s Hard was far enough from the main dockyard for the safe storage of up to 6,500 barrels of gunpowder. In the Napoleonic Wars, this was where all Royal Navy warships including HMS Victory came to load up their guns and ammunition, collecting them from small boats called ‘powder hoys’ which had in turn collected barrels of gunpowder carried in barrows down the Rolling Way to the harbour edge.
The site has adapted as times have changed. With the introduction of breech loading guns in the late 1850s, it was no longer necessary to make barrels or test gunpowder here and a series of large magazines were built to fill and store shells. In the 1880s, the substitution of highly explosive cordite for gunpowder as a propellant required the building of a narrow gauge railway to transport ordnance between filling and storage buildings. Change continued through the 20th century with the development of torpedoes, depth charges and small arms up to the arrival of guided missiles in the 1960s. The last time Priddy’s Hard supplied weapons to the Royal Navy was during the Falklands War in 1982.