Woolwich Arsenal - 80 pound gun

Updated: Sep 8


80 pound Cannon - these were made at Woolwich in the late 1800s. From before 1700 the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich was a extensive government factory for arms manufacture, research and testing. At its peak in the First World War it covered 1,285 acres and employed close to 80,000 people. Later in the C20th the operations were scaled down; it finally closed as a factory in 1967. During the Nineteenth century William Armstrong developed the design and power of many cannons which were used by the British army and navy. In numerous wars and invasions that were characterised as being in "defence" of Empire, British battleships used such advanced cannons to bombard coastal areas and fortifications from afar - safe from the reach of defending cannons .

Along the river on what is now Greenwich Peninsula the Blakeley Ordnance Company also manufactured cannons.

In an appeal that linked foreign policy with social and working conditions in Victorian England, Frederic Harrison, a critic of British imperialism wrote: " 'Civilisation' ... making the tour of the world on board ironclads (eg battleships) with eighty ton guns...is terribly wanted at home." Quoted p.162 - 'Insurgent Empire' P Gopal (Verso books, 2019)

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