HAMPSHIRE: Explosion!



By Tim Saunders

Cannons, missiles, bombs, rockets, guns, you name it, you’ll find it at Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower in Gosport. Every little boy's dream come true, this is a fascinating day out for the family and there is so much history to be gleaned.

Although the site has been there for a few hundred years, it of course came into its own during war time. So in WWI and II there were munition workers, both male and female, making weapons for the armed forces. It was a scary, frightening occupation and a dangerous one where workers could get injured if they weren’t careful. There is at least one photograph of a worker with one eye and there are stories of other incidents that you hear when walking round.

A lot of thought has gone into how the museum looks and the exhibits are very well displayed. Apparently, a woman who worked there in the 1930s was told by her male boss that she would not have any children due to the heavy lifting of the shells that he thought would damage her womb. She went on to have twins! The workers would have an afternoon sleep and their bosses would turn a blind eye. They were paid every Friday when they would finish early and the women would use the opportunity of transporting the weapons onto the boats as an opportunity to chat up the sailors.

“It is so sad that such armaments had to be manufactured at all,” says Caroline. “Why can’t people just talk and reach agreement?” If only.

The children are able to lose themselves in play and make themselves little medals. They love the life-size models of the workers and enjoy being able to run around and play, especially in the grand gunpowder magazine that could store over 6,000 barrels of gunpowder, without some stuffy attendant telling them off.

There are large binoculars that the children enjoy looking through and then we discover a game where you have one minute to load as many rounds as possible. Heidi and Caroline do 35, Henry and Harriett, 25 and I get 40. Well, what can I say?!

On our way out one of the staff, who happens to be called Heidi, like our second daughter, informs us that the brick used to build the museum came from a Fareham brickworks. The same brick was also used to build The Royal Albert Hall. Interesting what you can learn in a day.

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