- Jeffrey, Vic
- History - general
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- December 2004 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Two 7″ LARGE RIFLED muzzle-loading coast defence guns are undergoing refurbishment by the Navy at HMAS Stirling, WA. Dating from 1866, they were manufactured by the Royal Ordnance Factory in England. The heavier of the two (known as bottle guns, from their appearance) was placed on a steel mounting for coastal defence and the other had a timber carriage, having originally served onboard HMS Dreadnought (wooden first-rate battleship, launched 1857 and scrapped in 1875).
Far away in Western Australia in 1879 a volunteer militia, designated Naval Artillery Volunteers, was raised by Lieutenant G. A. Forsyth. It was restricted to ex-Royal Navy personnel and had a strength of 23, rising briefly to 38 in 1884.
Considered then obsolete, the two guns arrived onboard the SS Suffolk in 1881 and were landed on the beach near Fremantle where they lay undisturbed for a number of years, as financial constraints prevented their being adapted for service use. Finally they were taken to the Army’s Irwin Barracks at Karrakatta.
In November 1905 the guns were moved to Kings Park, Perth, and mounted on steel carriages at Mount Eliza, overlooking Perth Water. However, in 1932 the guns were sold for scrap and dismantled, following development of the Park. The mountings were removed but the guns survived and were buried between the State War Memorial and the first rotunda. They remained buried until 1966 when they were located using a magnetometer, after several unsuccessful attempts, and finally excavated.
Restoration and mounting on timber replica carriages was then undertaken, with completion being heralded by the firing of blank charges in a ceremony on 23 Feb 1969. One gun weighs 7 tonnes, the other 6.5 tonnes. The transportation to HMAS Stirling for refurbishment was captured in photo by Vic Jeffery on 9 October 2003. The ultimate destination after refurbishment is uncertain.
(NB. The Kings Park guns were familiarly known as “bottle guns” but officially as RML (Rifled Muzzle Loading), 7 inch (calibre) 6.5 ton, Mk 1 guns. They fired a 112 lb (50.8kg) shell to a range of about 4000 yards (3650m)).
NHS REVIEW Vol 20 No.1 Mar 1999 (Article by Jim Davies & Errol Stevens) A Companion to the Royal Navy by David A Thomas (Harrap UK 1988) Defence PR News Release