left margin of masthead Masthead :: NAVY News :: The official newspaper of the Royal Australian Navy NAVY Badge

Contents
Top Stories
Letters
Features
Finance
Recreation
Entertainment
Health and Fitness
Sport
About us
Home
Navigation Bar End

 

 

Features -History

Guns get face lift

Two naval guns from a bygone era are back in Navy hands, refurbished by HMAS Stirling gunnery staff,
and now adorning the entrance to the Fleet Base West Armoury. Photo: ABPH Jarrad Oliffe

Two naval guns from a bygone era are back in Navy hands, refurbished by HMAS Stirling gunnery staff, and now adorning the entrance to the Fleet Base West Armoury.

Photo: ABPH Jarrad Oliffe

By Vic Jeffery

A telephone call in July last year through the ‘Old Boy’ network has seen the preservation of two important examples of colonial naval guns in Western Australia.

The call was from a great supporter of the Navy, Mr Norm O’Neill of the WA Maritime Museum advising that these two guns were going to scrapped if a suitable home couldn’t be found.

A prompt e-mail to HMAS Stirling’s Commanding Officer, CMDR Phil Orchard drew a rapid and short response: “when can we pick them up?”

With this favourable reply, and an equally promising response from Mr R. Fryer, Manager of Horticulture and Assets of the King’s Park and Botanic Garden, it was “full ahead”.

In an informal ceremony the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the King’s Park Botanical Gardens, Ms Marcelle Broderick handed the documentation of the historic guns to CMDR Orchard who accepted them on behalf of the Navy.

Gunnery Officer LCDR Peter Radburn quickly made arrangements for the conveyance of the guns to Fleet Base West on Garden Island for refurbishment and display.

The two Mk. I rifled muzzle loading 7-inch naval guns (S/Nos. 148 and 163) were shipped from England in 1881 onboard the ship Suffolk for use as a coastal defence battery in the WA Colony.

Dating from 1866, they were manufactured by the Royal Gun Factory in England and fired an explosive fused 115lb shell to a maximum effective range of 5,500 yards with the propellant charges consisting of 30lb of gunpowder.

Both saw Royal Navy service with records revealing that gun no. 148 was for a time mounted aboard the 1860 crew ship-of-the line HMS Gibraltar (V) and both seeing service aboard the turret ship HMS Dreadnought (VI).

Sadly, the plan to use them in WA did not come to fruition and they lay on the beach at Fremantle after their landing for several years, as it was not considered a functional arrangement with financial constraints to mount them.

Finally, the decision was made to place them in storage at the Karrakatta Army barracks.

In 1905 they were acquired by the King’s Park Board and erected on display on steel mountings on Mount Eliza overlooking the City of Perth and the Swan River. The guns were to be sold for scrap and dismantled in 1932.

They were buried and later recovered by means of a magnetometer.

Once again in favour, the guns were restored and mounted on replica wooden cradles similar to their 1866 appearance with their restoration being heralded with the firing of blank charges in 1969.

Sadly, the guns were allowed to fall into disrepair again until refurbished by HMAS Stirling.

Top of side bar

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Stories | Letters | Features | Finance | Computing | Entertainment | Health & Fitness | Sport | About us