The Almonry Heritage Centre
Abbey Gate
WR11 4BQ
Telephone: 01386 446944

The wandering gun

The Imperial War Museum in its National Inventory of War Memorials records the Crimea Gun ref. 37848 sited outside the Almonry Museum SP 030 430. A captured relic of Sebastopol this gun has been extensively moved around before arriving at its present resting place. In 1883, following alterations to the Town Hall it was moved to Market Place or possibly vice-versa, as contemporary writings appear to conflict. Circa 1905 it was relocated to the old LMS Railway Station and later moved to Workman Gardens where it has been suggested there were two such guns. It was removed for scrap during WWII but miraculously survived. After World War II a Mr E Highland, manager of the local Regal Cinema discovered that the gun had not apparently been melted down. Having identified its whereabouts, he secured and restored it. On his death it passed to the Ironbridge Gorge Museum. In 1979 it was reinstated in Evesham following restoration at Ironbridge and resided at the entrance to Evesham College until 1993 when the Evesham Sea Cadets took it over. The cannon is on a second twenty-year loan from the Ironbrige Gorge Trust to the town on condition that it remains at the Almonry Heritage Centre. It now apparently lives in a unique cannon shed.

The gun was first given to the town by Queen Victoria in a ceremony of 25 January 1858. On the 25 September 1857 Lord Panmur had advised from the War Office that the gun was available and that the Woolwich Arsenal could provide a new carriage. A cast iron carriage would cost 16, a wooden garrison carriage 19 and a wooden ships garrison carriage 16. Evesham chose the 19 wooden garrison carriage.

Russian Guns at the captured Redan fort, Sebastopol.

A picture in Evesham Almonry Heritage Centre shows a similar cannon and carriage at The Redan, a fortified position on the outskirts of Sebastopol. The capture of The Redan by the English was a key element in drawing the war to a close; after its capture the Russians started their retreat. A Colonel Windham was awarded for his bravery during the attack on 8th Sept. 1855 by being made Governor of Sebastopol. He was the second man to enter the fortifications, the first; a sergeant of the 41st was killed and nearly crushed Windham in his fall. Source: The History of the War with Russia, (c.1856) Tyrell H. Vol. II, Chap.XIV.

According to the Almonry, the Evesham cannon weighs 2 tons including the carriage of which the barrel accounts for 1.25 tons. The cannon is 8ft 4 inches (254cm) bore length and 9ft 6 inches (289.6cm) overall. The bore is 7 inches (17.8cm) in diameter. From the various markings on the Evesham cannon it is possible to deduce much about the provenance of the gun. Although the markings are corroded and indistinct, sufficient survives to indicate that it has similarities to the Waiwora Gun in New Zealand. First the Evesham gun has the Russian Eagle on the second reinforce, confirming its country of origin. Looking at the right trunnion, the first line indicates that it is a 24 pounder or fun (a Russian fun is about the same as one pound avoir dupois). The middle line indicates that its weight is 120 poods (one pood = 35 fun) or 4,200 pounds. The bottom line identifies the date of manufacture as 1827. It should be noted at this juncture that The Almonry believe their cannon to be a 36 pounder cast in 1852. The left trunnion is also indistinct but the first line suggests the number of the gun is 18566. The middle line transcribed is Alksnd - Zvd, an abbreviated form of Aleksandrevsky Zavord or Alexander Factory. The bottom line indicates Fullon, the Director of the factory at the time of manufacture.

Pictures: Evesham Gun; The Russian guns of the Redan; Trunnion markings.

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