Historical information

The artillery piece of the cannon was cast at the Low Moor foundry in England in 1861. It is a 68 pound muzzle loading cannon, capable of firing a 68 pound weight projectile.

The arrow on the top of the barrel is the symbol of government ownership. It is probably one of the artillery pieces purchased by the Victorian government in response to the 1863 report by Captain Scratchley, which recommended 19 such artillery pieces be bought for the defence of Hobsons Bay, (Williamstown, Melbourne) (Billets p.12). It was possibly brought to Warrnambool in the late 1860s or the 1870s, to be used for training purposes by volunteers and local militia. The wrought iron runners were probably added to the slides at a later date.

This model of carriage had been manufactured since 1855, and the traversing slide since 1860. The traversing slide of the wooden carriage absorbs the recoil when the gun is then returns to the gun to its original position for loading and re-firing. The properties of the timber (regarded as being Burmese teak) have helped to preserve these carriages in Australia.

This particular carriage and traversing slide would have been manufactured about the same time as the gun (in 1861) in the Royal Carriage Department of the Royal Gun Factory in Woolwich, England. The gun would then have been assembled on the traversing slide of the carriage, then despatched as a unit.

The wooden slide compressor mechanism that belongs to the cannon was used to limit the recoil when the cannon was fired. It is now stored separately for purposes of preservation. It is extremely rare, as it is the only one surviving in this group of South Western Victorian cannons.

(Item No. W/F/02, Victorian Guns and Cannons, South Western Victoria, assessment May 2008)

Significance

This 68 pdr cannon, mounted with its original wooden carriage, is part of the South Western Victoria collection of surviving 19th Century artillery pieces, item number W/F/02.

It is rated as EXTREMELY RARE on a State, National and World level.

The 68 pound smooth bore cannon of this period are not particularly rare either in Australia or overseas; its significance lies in its Victorian provenance and as an element in a major collection of 19th century cannon.

The number of surviving carriages with traversing slides in this group in South Western Victoria is unique in Australia and probably in the World. Out of 10 such platforms surviving in Australia, the South Western Victorian group has half. Several survive around the world but probably not in such a large group.

The wooden sliding compressor mechanism belonging to this cannon is extremely rare, and the only one in this South Western Victorian group of Guns and Cannons.

As a whole, this cannon has undergone very little restoration or modification, giving it a high level of integrity.

(Reference; Victorian Guns and Cannons, South Western Victoria Assessment, May 2008).

Physical description

Warrnambool Garrison Cannon. 68pdr smooth bore, muzzle loading, cast iron cannon. Manufactured in Low Moor, 1861, No. 10310. Mounted on wooden carriage with wrought iron traversing slide and wrougt iron runners and fittings. The cannon's Cascabel is cast with a loop.
The Wooden Slide Compressor Mechanism, or recoil mechanism, is extremely rare. This mechanism comprises four equal sized sections of wood, two on top of two, joined in between the layers by metal rods. In the centre of this wooden platform, with openings top and bottom is a 15cm diameter metal cylinder with two cusps on the edge of the top. Two parallel sides each have two 1cm thick metal "L' plates attached 15cm long and 8.5cm wide. With the unit is ‘ L’ bracket, curved bracket and bolt head.

Inscriptions & markings

Cannon trunnion "LOW MOOR / 10310 / 1861"
Top of barrel "7045, (symbol of arrow pointing up), 95 – 3 – 14, 1861, 209"
Cascabel "CV / N / C"
Rear of left hand slide "“OD” “JW” “No 33”
Side chock – “JW” twice.