PLEASE NOTE: It is with a sad heart that I have to announce the closure of Fort Paull. I hope the right buyer will purchase the site and turn it into something truly wonderful.
Our plans for the day weren’t going to plan so we needed to head somewhere later in the day. I hadn’t really had Fort Paull near Hull on my radar for the summer but we decided we’d give it a visit. Fort Paull is an old gun battery located on the Humber estuary and claims to be Britain’s only remaining Napoleonic Fortress. The first fort built on the site was started in 1542.
The current fort is of a pentagonal design and was built around mid-1860. This is some time after the Napoleonic era which this fort now claims to be. For a historian like my husband, he found this disappointing as he thought he was visiting a Napoleonic fort. But all that aside we had a certainly interesting and entertaining visit to the Fort. It’s certainly like nowhere we’ve been before. Please read on to find out more.
This was day 45 of our #80dayschallenge to have at least 80 days out in one year.
Fort Paull Near Hull, Review
As mentioned above the current Fort was built in the mid 19th Century. Its use during WWII wasn’t a defensive one but more for training purposes. It was closed down in 1960 by the Ministry of defence and work began by a group of volunteers after they took over the site in 1964. They opened in 2000 but most of the exhibitions look like they’ve been there since 1964.
If you look on Tripadvisor you will see that many visitors are disappointed with the general lack of cleanliness of the place. The toilet block we went in was virtually rotting away and there are dirt and huge cobwebs literally everywhere. The displays have the scariest mannequins I’ve ever seen in my life and well technically it’s not actually Napoleonic. Look past all this and you will enjoy your day out.
The site needs some TLC. It clearly suffers from underfunding which I guess is down to not enough people visiting. But to be honest there’s some money in some of their exhibits and selling a few bits may provide some much-needed funds. We would return. Believe it or not, we would, especially on one of their special event days.
Fort Paull houses a series of waxwork museums showing figures which have influenced the fort’s long 500-year history as well as an armoury showing various artillery pieces and armoured vehicles. It’s a big site and there is plenty to see. We arrived around 1:15 pm and left at around 4 pm. This included a half an hour sitting outside on picnic benches drinking and eating some very good value drink and ice-creams while our son played on their playground.
We were advised when we arrived to visit everything in an anti-clockwise direction. We didn’t and we couldn’t work out why it made a difference which way you went. One area was also out of bounds as the tunnels in one of the building were flooded. Around the site, there is a number of buildings.
They have had many uses throughout the years and they all now house exhibitions with mannequins and historical items. Some of the displays are really gruesome with fake blood, limbs missing and more. Plus some pretty scary sound effects. Our son was really taken with an exhibit in the fire section where you could light up a room and see how different fires can start.
Goodness knows where they got some of the mannequins from but most of them are very scary looking. So much so nearly every exhibit was making us giggle in one way or another. Most buildings also had an underground level to explore again with something to look at in each. The rooms and buildings covered lots of different aspects of history such as Henry VIII, the English Civil war, WWII and many more.
Some of the underground buildings are really sinister. Our son was in his element exploring and he adores scary things. Some exhibits will be too scary for younger children. The three worse being one where you are pointed on your way to hell and you end up on the front line. The other as you are walking down the steps you can hear an air raid siren.
When you get down below there’s a family of mannequins and added sound effects of bombs dropping. The third is a series of rooms with mannequins representing witches and one is even being ‘burnt’ at the stake. These exhibits are not for the faint-hearted. People pay a lot more to be scared at one of the chains of Dungeons across the country. This place will give you entertainment on a whole other level.
Above ground around the outskirts of the Fort, there are old and very large guns set up with mannequins ready to defend us from the enemy. They also have a huge number of canons and the centrepiece is the world’s only surviving Blackburn Beverley aircraft which sits in the centre of the field. They have stairs set up so you can walk inside the aircraft and even look up to the second floor where everyone would have sat. There’s even exhibits inside the aircraft.
Our son was really disappointed when we told him we’d been around everything. I have to add that we had just explored a huge amount. We had been up and down a great number of steps, in and out of underground and above ground rooms, in a train carriage, in an old war plane, climbed up to the top of one of their defences and looked out over the Humber. I don’t think we really read much though but there is a huge amount to read.
There is a playground next to the bar/cafe. It’s basic but our son loved it and he soon made friends with some other boys. It’s a bit like an army assault course but for kids and there are a few bizarre additions such as a dinosaur doing a Tommy Cooper impression, a large bomb coming out of the ground and an elephant!
There is one thing about the place that really stands out and that is its uniqueness and that is always something we like in a day out. For all its faults we had a really fun time and we would certainly visit again.
There really is nowhere like it that’s for sure. Go there with an open mind now you’ve read my review and support somewhere that needs our support. I have read comments from people hoping English Heritage will take over. Honestly, I’d love to say that the volunteers do a great job but well I think it’s time to pass this wonderful piece of British history over or at least apply for some lottery funding. Sorry!
Eating and Drinking at Fort Paull
There is an underground bar at Fort Paull. It has lots of tables inside which are surrounded by cabinets and cabinets of historical artefacts. The food and drink there is mind-blowingly cheap. We bought a can of diet coke, double g&t, fruit shoot, Fab lolly and 2 tubs of ice-cream for just £7!
The man at the bar did inform us that the lady that cooks had gone home for the day. He also informed us that she isn’t always there to cook the food and we’d be better off visiting at the weekend if we wanted to eat there. They also have some unloved picnic benches outside the bar area. This, in turn, is next to the playground.
There is also a railway carriage within the grounds that they advertise as somewhere to eat a picnic. I wouldn’t! It was beyond love and care with spiders webs, mouldy windows and basically filthy. They couldn’t even be bothered to hang the curtains right. The whole place has a sense of “can’t be bothered”.
See below for more photos from our visit.
The summer opening times for 2019 at Fort Paull are 13th April to 1st November. 10am – 6pm (last admission 4pm). We paid £6.50 each for an adult and our son was £5.50. A family ticket is £20.00 which is for 2 adults and 2 children which for some reason she tried to charge us for but we only have one child. PLEASE be aware that all of Fort Paull is cash only.
Fort Paull has a number of events every year. Why not check out their events page to find out more.
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