Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bounty Cannon Project near Completion

We are inching closer to the end of our Bounty Cannon Conservation Project, funded through a Community Heritage Grant from the National Library.

This has been a fabulous project to undertake on so many levels – most importantly our cannon is now rust free, and with new sealants to preserve it for years to come. Janelle Blucher has overseen all this work, painstakingly moving back and forth over the surface of the cannon to ensure the job has been done perfectly. We established a wonderful new relationship with Phillip Smith and the Museum of Tropical Queensland when he came to make the cast for us. We have also been able to engage with the skill of locals, in particular Lee Irvine and Peter Horrocks and volunteer Sue Brian. Lee was invaluable in working with Phillip during the making of the cast and also brought the know-how to move around and work with a half tonne object. Peter has made a truly beautiful carriage for the cannon to finally rest on which is quite a work of art in its own right. And Sue has given countless hours supporting Janelle with all the steps of the conservation process. While we won’t congratulate ourselves until the cannon is safely back on display in the Pitcairn Norfolk Gallery in the Pier Store, I’m sure this will be a project we look back on with great satisfaction and pride.

Testing the carriage with the replica cannon
Rhonda Griffiths sent me a link to the September edition of ‘Dem Tull Pitcairn News’ recently. Tim Young has written a great article on Pitcairn’s Bounty Cannon at Tim says:

The Bounty’s cannon did not see too much action, and seem to have been only used in anger during the aborted attempt by the mutineers to settle on Tubuai. Even then the only confirmed kill was a house rafter, as described by Bounty’s Boatswains Mate James Morrison: “(the mutineers) fired a four-pounder shotted among them (potentially hostile Tubuaians), at which they fled. The shot did no other damage then passing through a house where it cut away a rafter to which a man was hanging a gourd of water, and at which he was so terrified that he left the house.” 

The final seal is applied
When the Bounty was turned into a floating bonfire, all four cannons were still aboard.. Anyway, over fifty years later, in January 1845, two were recovered, and one was made into working order again. Sadly, this working cannon misfired on Wednesday 26th January 1853 as they were trying to salute the H.M.S. Virago, injuring three. One of these was the Island Magistrate Matthew McCoy, and he died of his injuries about 12 hours after the accident. As a result, the cannon was spiked, and many years later it was given to a passing ship (I tend to call this one the “killer cannon”). The other cannon was taken to Norfolk Island where it is on display to this day. The two remaining in the ocean stayed as such until June/July 1973 when the third was recovered, and today sits outside a private home in Adamstown. The final one remained untouched until it was raised in 1999 and sent to the Museum of Tropical Queensland for preservation. It was returned last year. Having sat in a box since its return last year, a replica carriage was built, and after putting the cannon on it, and a Perspex case around it, it now sits in the Pitcairn Island Museum for all to see”.

Wheel detail

Making the supporting sections

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