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24-pdr Cannon, Rock Gun Battery

Ref: ORD042

Date: c1790’s                                                    

Visible Markings: GRIII on third reinforce, WGo and 1798 on second reinforce. 38 on first reinforce.

Material: Cast iron                                            

Mounting: On a collapsed carriage.

Remarks: The 24-pounder long gun was a heavy calibre piece of artillery mounted on warships of the Age of sail, second only to the 36-pounder long gun.

Four lengths of iron 24-pounders are mentioned in Thomas James’s 1722 notebook: 10 ft (3.05 m), 9 ½ ft (2.9 m), 9 ft (2.75 m), and 8 ½ ft (2.6 m) long. The length of this barrel measures 9 ½ feet marking it as one of the longer pieces or ordnance.

As part of his new system of construction, Blomefield designed two 24-pounder iron guns of 9 ½ and 9 feet weighing 50-1/2 and 47-3/4 hundredweight respectively in 1787. Later these were usually referred to as 50 and 48 hundredweight guns. According to Mould, writing in 1825, the 50-hundredweight gun was used on the ‘Middle Deck of First Rates, and Main Deck of some 4th rates, also on Fortresses and in Battering Trains.’

In the land service, the 24-pounder, especially the heavier gun, was highly regarded as a battering piece, and it was extensively used during Wellington's peninsular campaigns and again in the Crimea some 40 years later.

This particular barrel was probably cast by Joshua Walker and Company based in Rotheram. Joshua had taken over the company after the death of his brother Samuel in 1782.

In 1787, the Walker Company of Rotherham became the prime contractor for the Ordnance Board which was chosen to work with the new head of the Ordnance Board, Captain Thomas Blomefield, to produce a new pattern of gun. During 1786 and 1787 a series of trial pieces were produced by Walker, with varying degrees of success, the design being modified in light of their experience. One major breakthrough came when Walker successfully managed to incorporate a loop, not previously possible on an iron gun - “We have hit upon a mode of casting and boring guns with loops on the cascabels....” 

This gun barrel shows the loop on the cascabel based on the Blomefield design.

By the 1790’s this company was regarded as the premier gun foundry in Britain and all other gun foundries were required to produce the new Blomefield pattern gun design incorporating the Walker Company breeching loop cascabel design. This became an easily distinguishable feature used to identify Blomefield pattern guns from the previous Armstrong pattern gun designs. Blomefield had developed his system of construction of iron guns that initially included only one 32-pounder of 9-1/2 feet and 55-1/2 hundredweight. This gun, which was designated either for garrison or sea service, proved to be very popular right to the end of the smooth-bore era.

Around 80 of the 105 guns aboard HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar were cast by the Walker Company.

The weight markings are normally shown British guns below the cascabel. The three figures 55-2-4 represents the hundredweight (1 cwt=112 lbs), quarters (1 qr=28lbs) and pounds (lb). The quarter weight and remaining poundweight is not identifiable so the weight of the gun barrel can only be estimated as follows:

39 x 112 lbs. = 4,256 lbs.

? x 28 lbs. = ? lbs.

+ ? lbs.

= 4,256 lbs or a minimum of 2.128 tons

Detail on first reinforce.

Detail on second reinforce.

Effects of weathering on gun barrel and weighting number on first reinforce.

24-pdr Cannon, Rock Gun Battery Image