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Islands' cannons get spit and polish

A team of engineers were on the islands recently working on Scilly’s 17 cannons.

Tim, Cliff, Dan and Matt from Brecon-based Context Engineering started work on February 14th but were unable to finish due to the snow.

Cliff, a retired police officer, told This is Scilly: “There has been a lot of grit blasting, scraping, hammering off rust, priming and painting, washing and linseed oiling. New parts are being made, a metal carriage has been taken away for repair. We have removed 56 very heavy metal wheels, eight of which were from the two cannons on Tresco, refurbished on St Mary’s and taken back.”

Scilly has 15 cannons on the Garrison and two in Cromwell’s Castle, all dating from the 18th to 19th century.

Cannons will usually have a periodical wash and brush up, linseed oil in the carriage and all rusty metal work scraped, wire brushed and painted. The metal work will be repaired and replaced every five years.

Team boss Tim will return this month to complete outstanding work, including refitting wheels and painting. He has also taken a carriage to Wales to repair, which will be replaced in June. He will be fitting new wooden Tampions in the ends of the barrels, all of which will be painted bright red.

Tim works on cannons all over the UK, specialising in working with historic metal work in every type of building. English Heritage has large collections of cannons in Dover, Berwick and the Isle of Wight, as well as several dotted around the coast.

He said: “On some cannons you will see more corrosion on the barrels than others because they were used as bollards.” There are still cannons used as bollards on St Mary's quay today.

He added that the painting on Scilly was particularly interesting "because the cold conditions made the paint feel like spreading treacle".

Cliff also praised Clinton Perry of Pernic Forge for his help, saying: “He worked long hours and was very accommodating with all aspects of helping Tim get the job done. The most demanding task was spending longer days in a special suit with an oxygen suit, grit blasting the cannon barrels and over 50 wheels. Clinton’s son Dan came down to the site after school to help as well.”


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