Historical information

This 1813 cannon is classified as a carronade, having been made by the Carron Ironworks foundry in Stirling, Scotland in 1813. It is a large calibre, short range, gun mainly used on ships. The carronade model of cannon was first used when introduced into the British Royal Navy in the American War of the Revolution (1775-1883).

This cannon was originally a 28pdr, 48cwt, 8ft gun. The date ‘1837’ on the barrel probably indicates the date that the Board of Ordinance accepted the change in size to a 32pdr. It may originally have been a naval gun and the conversion undertaken when it was brought ashore. It is very probably one of the 15 guns that are known to have constituted the defences of Victoria in 1860. This group of 32pdrs was the shorter model of the 4800width and 8ft length cannon and as such are different from the 32pdrs found in NSW.

It was originally located on Cannon Hill in Warrnambool when it was the site of the Warrnambool Battery Western Artillery, formed in 1866. It was obsolete by the time of the 1887 fortifications, and was moved from the Warrnambool Fortifications to the Botanic Gardens in 1910, when the Fortifications were declared obsolete.

In the years following the Crimean War (1854-1857J) there was a great concern in the Colony that Imperial Russia would attempt an invasion. Coastal defences in the colony of Victoria were greatly strengthened by the Government as a result.

Warrnambool was originally protected by cannons at Cannon Hill, approximately 1 kilometer west of the Flagstaff Hill Fortifications. The cannons included two 1866 guns, both 80 Pound Rifled Muzzle Loaders (RML) purchased by Victoria’s Colonial Government. They were part of a shipment of 26 such guns sent from England in December 1866. They are registered as No. 23 (80cwt-2qr-0lbs) - Gun 1, and No.13 (81cwt-1qr-12lbs) - Gun 2. They were cast at the Royal Gun Factory, Woolwich Arsenal, in 1866 and have a 6.3 inch bore. Both barrels carry the Royal Cypher of Queen Victoria, Insignia of the Royal Engineers, within the Garter and Motto surmounted by the Crown, with the Royal Cypher of Queen Victoria within the Garter (letters in centre “VR”, motto “HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE”, "Shame be to him who thinks evil of it."). The guns were originally supplied with wooden carriages.

(The Royal Arsenal at Woolwich, England, was established eleven years after the Restoration of King Charles II. It was the principal supplier of armaments to the British and Empire Governments. At the height of its operations during World War One the factory covered 1300 acres and employed very nearly 80,000 workers. Woolwich was the Headquarters of the Royal Artillery since the raising of that Regiment in 1716. The Arsenal was closed in the late 1960’s.)

The two 80pdr cannons were transferred to the Warrnambool Garrison Artillery Battery Fortifications erected at Flagstaff Hill in 1887 as part of Victoria’s Coastal Defences. The original wooden carriages were subsequently replaced with the present iron garrison carriages in 1888. They are a “C” pivot. The ‘racers’ or curved track set into the floor of the gun emplacement (which enabled the guns to be traversed more quickly) are as specified for guns up to 10 inch, being of wrought iron 2.78 inches wide.

A temporary third gun, now no longer on Flagstaff Hill’s site, was a 5 inch Rifled Breech Loading (BL) Armstrong gun mounted on an Elswick hydro pneumatic disappearing carriage It was faster to load and fire than the 80 pound RMLs and its arrival spelt the end of the older 80 pound guns’ useful life, apart from being used for practice sessions. The 5 inch BL gun was the main defensive weapon of the Warrnambool Battery until the Battery was downgraded in importance and the gun was recalled to Melbourne in 1910. The gun emplacement still remains in place set between the 2 80pdr cannon.

The State of Victoria took over the ownership of the guns at the time of Australian Federation in 1901. In about 1901/1902 the Garrison Battery was converted to the Warrnambool Battery of the Australian Field Artillery (No 4 Field Battery). It was equipped with 4.7 inch naval guns mounted on field carriages. They were now a mobile unit but continued to use the Warrnambool Garrison area at Flagstaff Hill for practice.

When the Fortifications were declared obsolete the two 80 Pounder RML were relocated to Cannon Hill in 1910. On the outbreak of World War 1 the 4.7 inch guns were recalled to Melbourne, and the Battery was disbanded. Most of the personnel probably re-enlisted in the local 4th Australian Light Horse Regiment.

The two 80 Pounder RML were moved back to the Fortifications in 1973. They were both fully restored by Army First Year Apprentices at the Ordinance Factory in Bendigo in time for the centenary year of the fortifications in 1987.

The guns are capable of firing 80 pound (32.3kg) armour piercing exploding shells 3.65kms out to sea. They were original manned by volunteers before a paid Garrison was established. Now the Guns are again fired by volunteers on Special Event days. Since restoration the Gun Number 1 had been fired on a regular basis but Gun Number 2 hadn’t been fired since the mid 1990’s. In April 2015 Gun Number 2 was serviced in preparation for the firing of both cannons on the ANZAC Centenary commemorations on April 25th 2015.

Other guns from the original Cannon Hill location were obsolete by the time the 1887 Warrnambool Garrison Artillery Battery was built. These guns are
(1) a 32 Pounder Muzzle Loading Smooth Bore (SB) cast in 1813 at the famous Carron Foundry, number 80837 and now located in the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens. It is now mounted on a replica carriage due to the original carriage being in a fragile condition (the original carriage stored under cover at Flagstaff Hill).
(2) a 68 Pounder Muzzle Loading Smooth Bore cast in 1861 at the equally august Low Moor Foundry, number 10310 and now located on the lawn area at the entrance to Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village. It is still mounted on its original wooden garrison carriage. Its wooden slide compressor mechanism is fragile and now kept in Flagstaff Hill’s storage.

There are only seven 32 Pounder SB made by Carron and fifteen 68 Pounder SB made at Low Moor known to exist in the State of Victoria

Plaque attached to the carriage “This replica carriage was constructed by the Warrnambool Tritan Woodworkers club in conjunction with the generosity of local businesses and the Warrnambool community. The original carriage (circa 1860) was removed for restoration and is now located at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village. The timber used for the replica carriage is Monterey Cypress, which was an early planting in the gardens. 2010 marked the centenary of the cannon’s relocation in the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens.”

(Reference; Victorian Guns and Cannons, South Western Victoria Assessment, May 2008, item W/B/01; Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village datasheets and archives).


There are only seven 32 Pounder SB made by Carron known to exist in the State of Victoria and this is one of them. On a world level, this cannon represents a high level of rarity. Further, as it has been modified (bored up) it is representative of the historical process of amending artillery in order to ensure a longer usefulness of each piece despite rapidly advancing artillery technology.

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.

The City of Warrnambool is one of several custodians of a collection of artillery pieces of heritage significance at a state, national and international level. These pieces are directly related to the defence of south-west Victoria in the 19th century. The care and preservation come under the Heritage Act 1995.

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

Physical description

Cannon, or carronade, 32pdr with wheels. Muzzle loading smooth bore (SB) cannon. Cannon has original wooden Burmese Teak carriage and slide with wrought iron fittings and iron wheels. Manufactured by Carron in Scotland, in 1813. It has been converted from a 28pdr. There is a loop for a rope on the cascabel, which was part of the original casting. Re-bored in 1837. Marks include Serial Number, Royal Cypher of King George III, broad arrow of proofing, and numbers to represent the weight.
NOTE: The cannon is displayed in the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens and is mounted on a replica wooden carriage; the original wooden carriage is now stored under cover at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village. This carriage has 4 wheels on swivel attachments and a central gear that allows the wheels to turn on rails.

Inscriptions & markings

Pressed into left trunnion “80837 / CARRON / 1813”, cast on barrel“symbol (Royal Cypher of King George III”, “symbol (broad arrow of proofing)” and numbers “45-3-24 / 1837” . Cascable “CV” and marks with gradations from nought to three in quarters on each side, On the carriage the end of one of the main slide members carries the mark “W symbol (broad arrow) D” incised into the timber.

Plaque attached to the carriage by the Warrnambool Tritan Woodworkers club, 2010, marking the centenary of the cannon’s relocation in the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens and the addition of the replica carriage.