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Bringing in the BIG GUN

PUBLISHED: 11:10 25 February 2010 | UPDATED: 17:37 25 August 2010

A 40-TONNE gun that defended the British Empire has become the centrepiece of the world s oldest artillery museum. Almost as long as the articulated lorry used to transport it, the 38-foot coastal gun is one of only two left in existence that were used a

A 40-TONNE gun that defended the British Empire has become the centrepiece of the world's oldest artillery museum.

Almost as long as the articulated lorry used to transport it, the 38-foot coastal gun is one of only two left in existence that were used across the globe at Gibraltar, Aden, Hong Kong and Singapore.

It has now been taken out of storage at the Rotunda on Woolwich Common, former home of the Royal Artillery Museum.

Five men using a crane capable of lifting 250-tonnes gingerly lifted the priceless piece of British heritage onto the flat-bed lorry.

It was then taken to Firepower, the museum's home since 2001 off Beresford Street, to be craned into position in James Clavell Square last Thursday. The 9.2 inch calibre gun was built in the early 1900s and used to protect the coast of Gibraltar until the 1950s. If it were active it could fire a 380lb shell from its position near the Thames and reach a target 16 miles away, as far as Sevenoaks.

Curator of Firepower, Mark Smith, said: "It will be a spectacular centrepiece to the Royal Artillery heritage quarter. The sheer size of the gun, by far the largest exhibit at the museum, will act as a fantastic, visible attraction. For the whole area it signifies everything about the Royal Arsenal: the manufacture of very large artillery guns."

The enormous gun almost suffered the indignity of being chopped up before it was discovered in a Gibraltar scrap yard in 1981. It was brought back to Britain and put on a proofing sledge at a firing range in Shoeburyness, Essex.

It was then put on display outside the Rotunda, the museum's home between 1820 and 1999.

Firepower is based at the Royal Arsenal, birthplace of the Royal Artillery founded there in 1716.


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