The Great Guns of Barbados

100.00 BBD

This fascinating book of genuine historical significance not only describes this extraordinary collection of rare 17th Century English Iron Guns but also explains why and how they ended up in Barbados, a small island in the Caribbean. The Barbados cannon collection is now recognized internationally as the finest collection of 17th Century English Iron Guns to be found anywhere in the world. Many of them are very rare. Why are there so many rare guns on the small island of Barbados, which in itself measures only 21 miles in length and 14 miles in width? The answer is that its geographical position to the East of the main stream of Caribbean Islands made it the most strategically placed Island of them all. Attacks could be launched from Barbados in heavily laden sailing ships and the prevailing winds and currents would take them swiftly to wherever they wanted to attack. Conversely to attack Barbados from the other islands was virtually impossible, as the ships would be sailing against the same strong winds and currents. It was never achieved. Indeed a French fleet once set out to attack Barbados but was blown so far north that it took St. Kitts instead. To add to its strategic position Barbados was becoming a very wealthy Island with the advent of Sugar. There was no way that the English were going to permit any enemy to put foot on its soil and none ever did. To this end the Island was continuously supplied with guns for its many forts and weapons for its powerful Militia. In 1657, Ligon, the historian described the island as a potent colony 'able to muster 10,000 foot and 1,000 good horse'. In October 1651 Cromwell's Army arrived to subjugate the Royalists, but was unable to land owing to the powerful Militia. An agreement between the two sides was eventually reached and in January 1652 the Charter of Barbados was signed. In 1780 a survey of the Forts and Guns in Barbados was carried out. It was found that a staggering total of 40 forts and batteries and 364 serviceable guns were sited along the south and west coast, a distance of at the most 30 miles. The East Coast was protected by an inaccessible reef. After Nelson's victory over the combined French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar in 1805 the threat to Barbados and the other Caribbean Islands was completely removed. This removal led to the deterioration of the Forts and Guns because there was no need for them. From the 17th Century onwards, obsolete iron guns fell to the ground after their wooden carriages had rotted away. Before 1805 these guns were replaced direct from England but after that date there was no requirement to replace them. The same Guns were lying abandoned some 350 years until they were recovered recently to form what is now the Barbados National Armoury in St. Ann's Fort. This publication includes details such as the parts of a gun and its carriage, the method and implements used for loading and firing, the different types of ammunition and simple methods of identification. A total of one hundred and eighty four guns have been located, identified, photographed and catalogued throughout Barbados. One hundred and twenty six of these make up the National Collection, belonging to Government and fifty-eight are in private hands. From the survey carried out in 1780 there are still one hundred and eighty guns unaccounted for. This book is about one of the world's greatest collections of iron guns. This unique collection is a commendable achievement in itself, but it is also a most valuable contribution to the history of both naval guns, and those installed in shore defences in the 17th century - extract from the foreword by His Royal Highness the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

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