The objects are a small sample of small gauge lead shot raised by Flagstaff Hill divers from the LOCH ARD shipwreck site in 1976. Companion pieces are in the Maritime Village collection.
The three masted, iron hulled, LOCH ARD was wrecked against the tall limestone cliffs of Mutton Bird Island in the early hours of the first of June 1878. Included in her diverse and valuable cargo were 22 tons of lead shot, packed in cloth bags and wooden casks.
Bulk quantities of lead shot, uniformly round balls of dull grey metal ranging from 2mm “birdshot” to 8mm “buckshot”, were routinely exported to the Australian colonies. Shot was used mostly as projectiles fired from smooth bored guns to bring down moving targets such as wild ducks and small game. It was also useful as ballast, when a dense, “pourable” weight was required to fill cavities or establish volume within a measuring container.
The production of consistently round spheres of lead shot required the pouring of molten metal through a sieve and then a long drop through the atmosphere to a water filled basin for final cooling and collection. This “shot tower” process was first patented by William Watts of Bristol in 1782. His calculation of a 150 feet fall was not only to form evenly spherical droplets through surface tension, but also to provide partial cooling and solidification to each shot before they hit the water below. The value of his innovation was the minimising of indentation and shape distortion, avoiding the expense of re-smelting and re-moulding the lead.
Lead shot was already being produced in Australia at the time the LOCH ARD loaded her cargo and left Gravesend on the second of March 1878. James Moir constructed a 157 feet circular stone shot tower near Hobart in 1870, with a peak annual production of 100 tons of lead shot sold in 28 pound linen bags. However colonial demand exceeded this source of local supply. The continued strength of the market for lead shot in the Colony of Victoria prompted substantial investment in additional productive capacity in Melbourne in the next decade. In 1882 Richard Hodgson erected the 160 feet round chimney-shaped Clifton Hill shot tower on Alexandra Parade (VHR H0709) and in 1889 Walter Coop built the 160 feet square tower-shaped Melbourne Central shot tower on La Trobe Street (VHR H0067). At its peak, the Coop Tower produced 6 tons of lead shot per week, or 312 tons per annum.
The shipwreck of the LOCH ARD is of State significance – Victorian Heritage Register S417
Flagstaff Hill’s collection of artefacts from LOCH ARD is significant for being one of the largest collections of artefacts from this shipwreck in Victoria. It is significant for its association with the shipwreck, which is on the Victorian Heritage Register (VHR S417). The collection is significant because of the relationship between the objects, as together they have a high potential to interpret the story of the LOCH ARD.
The LOCH ARD collection is archaeologically significant as the remains of a large international passenger and cargo ship. The LOCH ARD collection is historically significant for representing aspects of Victoria’s shipping history and its potential to interpret sub-theme 1.5 of Victoria’s Framework of Historical Themes (living with natural processes). The collection is also historically significant for its association with the LOCH ARD, which was one of the worst and best known shipwrecks in Victoria’s history.
A quantity of 2mm and 4mm lead shot ammunition retrieved from the LOCH ARD shipwreck site. They are concreted together by sediment. There are (6) small pieces with some single shot and a larger conglomerate of cemented shot.
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