Wednesday, 25 April 2018
The return of the cannons
The World Heritage Day celebrations had a particular focus this year: cannons. In 1871, Sir Titus Salt, bought two Napoleonic War naval cannons as features for the newly opened Saltaire Park (now known as Roberts Park). It was said that one of them had been fired during the Battle of Trafalgar. As can be seen in old photos in Saltaire's archives, those cannons stood either side of the original bandstand, until they were removed and melted down to make more armaments during WWII.
Two 68 pounder cannons have now been reintroduced to the park, on permanent loan from Bradford's Industrial Museum. They have their own interesting history. They were made locally at Bradford's Low Moor Ironworks in 1846, and used as a display at the foundry. It is said they could fire cannonballs over a range of two miles in 15 seconds! After the foundry closed, the cannons, which each weigh four and a half tonnes, eventually ended up at the Industrial Museum, where they have been displayed at the gates. The iron work was deteriorating, so they have been professionally restored, painted and mounted on new military gun carriages, which replicate those originally in Saltaire's park.
It has been a real labour of love. I spoke to the conservator, Ian Barrand (photo below), who has spent over 18 months researching and restoring the cannons, work which has been possible thanks to lottery funding. He was clearly very moved to see the project concluded and the cannons in their intended positions. There is a very interesting video and feature HERE, worth clicking for more information. It shows some footage of the original cannons too.
I can see that the cannons will rival the Roberts Park alpacas as climbing frames for children. I was rather amused by the three little boys in my middle photo, who hunkered down underneath the barrel and found that their baseball caps just neatly fitted on the cannonballs piled up below.