From the sea bed to the museum

The project

Commercial moving can be a hard, challenging job, with crews often called upon to work unsociable hours to meet the needs of clients and to avoid any downtime or interruption of the organisation’s services.

But it pales into insignificance of being a crew member on a Royal Navy ship, especially on one of the 300 or so ships of the early 18th Century; a period when the Navy played a role in global exploration discovery and defended its trade routes, often against pirates! Sailors were frequently press ganged into serviced and often suffered from scurvy. Whether due to rough seas or due to being damaged in battle it wasn’t unheard of for a ship’s cannon to become detached from its moorings and end up in the ocean.

Moving museum artefacts provided by Specialised Movers
Moving museum artefacts provided by Specialised Movers

One particular cannon that did just that was a Bogard pattern design 3-pounder (circa 1715 to 1727) which was believed to be lost overboard by a Navy ship sometime around this period.

It was found on the sea bed in 2020, when it registered as a magnetic anomaly by the contractors who were laying the Nemo link cable between the UK and Holland for the National Grid. Shortly after it was retrieved from the sea bed by Wessex Archaeology, the conservation unit discovering that the cannon was found to be still primed with all the wadding and priming parts are preserved still with the cannon.

After a short preservation period the cannon was placed into a bespoke air tight case in situ by Armour Systems and donated to the National Grid at Solihull. A short time after it was decided to rehome the cannon in the museum at Fort Amherst in Chatham, Kent which is ‘Britain’s Biggest and Best Napoleonic Fort’. The original contractors requested that a specialist removal company could handle the relocation it and because of our experience in carrying out such projects Specialised Movers were selected.

After the initial survey it was decided to move the cannon in the same way the original contractors had, though carrying out the process in reverse. After a risk assessment and evaluation had been undertaken, it was agreed to build a bespoke case to house the cannon during transit.

‘Measure twice, cut once’

One of our employed specialists Steven Shaw was put in charge of the project team due to his vast experience in handling both precious artefacts and museum pieces (and not as someone suggested because he was around when the cannon was cast!). Following the old adage of ‘measure once and cut twice’ to avoid making a mistake (which in this case was simply not an option), Steven decided to test lift the cannon three times from different points to check it was safe to lift without damage before using the lift gantry’s two 5-tonne slings to slowly elevate the cannon. Once the cannon was safely placed within the supplied wooden protective case the team turned their experience to make the display case safe for transportation by further securing the piece in place with protective wrapping.

The relocation of the cannon was carried out in one day, with installation of the cannon taking place the next day. The cannon was placed at the exact same resting points as before, which was essential to ensure the protective display case could be resealed.

The cannon is now on general display within the museum.

https://www.wessexarch.co.uk/archaeological-services/conservation

https://fortamherst.com

If you require antiques, works of art, artefacts or museum pieces relocated safely call us today on 0114 261 1183 or email service@specialisedmovers.com

Moving museum artefacts provided by Specialised Movers

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