Keeper of Fort Nelson, Nick Hall and the Sexton SPG

Nick Hall

Nick Hall is Keeper of Artillery at the Royal Armouries Museum and is based at Fort Nelson.

Brought up in Norwich where my historic surroundings both fixed – buildings, and movable – old cars and boats, left their mark.

Read History of Art at the Courtauld Institute, London and joined the then Tower Armouries in 1972. I was fortunate to learn from Howard Blackmore, Russell Robinson and Alan Borg, arms & armour leading scholars and spend time in the workshop with Ted Smith and Arthur Davies.

In 1978 I became Keeper of Metalwork at Hampshire County Museums, opening a community museum in Havant. Here I displayed the superb Vokes firearms collection, local history and put on frequent exhibitions. When the County bought Fort Nelson, a derelict Ancient Monument, I was asked to help decide its future. The Fort’s restoration was begun, eventually to become the Royal Armouries artillery museum.

In 1988 I re-joined the Royal Armouries to develop Fort Nelson and prepare the museum displays for opening in 1995. Success in attracting a broad range of visitors, in increasing numbers showed the benefits of the strategy. This included: involving the whole staff, integration of academic and commercial, interpreting both the history of artillery and the Fort itself, the use of conventional museum techniques and methods such as video, Acoustiguide sound tours, and live interpretation and firing demonstrations. The use of historic artillery became a particular interest, involving participation in TV programmes and consultancy on behalf of the museum. I enjoy writing and lecturing on artillery and fortifications.

I am a Fellow of the Society of Antiquities, and Associate of the Institute of Explosive Engineers.

When I am not at the museum I am restoring a classic Citroen Traction Avant [1951] and a sailing boat. I find it difficult to refuse requests from friends for help with plumbing and various repair work. I like being outdoors and am very lucky to live in the country but find time whenever possible to visit exhibitions and go to concerts, theatre and films.

Did you know?

Greek air power

The Ancient Greeks invented a kind of catapult that used compressed-air springs instead of twisted cords. The same principle is used today in luxury cars, buses and heavy goods vehicles suspension systems.

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