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[Royal Visit to Woolwich Arsenal, 1855]

Source: The Illustrated London News, Dec 8, 1855, p.675

From the inspection of these trophies their Majesties entered the proof department. A machine constructed for the purpose of testing the tensile power of metals excited great attention on the part of his Majesty. In order to show the operation and the surprising force of the apparatus, which was a very-slight-looking affair, a piece of iron 1.3 inches in diameter was placed under it, and, by an ingenious combination of levers, a pressure of 33,900 lb. was brought to bear on the bar, when the metal fractured with a noise like the explosion of a rifle. In various parts of the yard lay fractured masses of iron, several inches thick, which had once formed part of guns that had burst in service, and which afforded extraordinary evidence of the tremendous explosive force to which they had been subjected.

One of these fractured masses was a portion of a 10-inch gun, weighing 116 cwt. and 10 feet in length, which, charged with 16 lb. of powder and an eccentric shot of 100lb. weight, burst at Shoeburyness in 1852 after the fifty-fourth round. The extreme was 5860 yards, or upwards of three miles, and it was tired at an elevation of 52 degrees. When this piece exploded it caused the death of several artillerymen who were standing near.