Hall Conservation Ltd

Date:24 January, 2017

Project Information

The Royal Hospital Chelsea, also known as the Chelsea Pensioners Hospital, has a collection of eight cannons on its south terrace with an additional cannon on the upper terrace. The cannons are part of the Royal Armouries Collection and are on long term loan. The nine cannons are from different battles and different periods.

Three of the cannons have already been conserved with plans to conserve the remaining six in the upcoming financial years.

The two cannon from the south terrace are bronze with wooden carriages. The cannon from the upper terrace is much larger and is also bronze, but had a white metal inlay on the barrel and a cast iron carriage.

All of the barrels were in good condition, the inlay in the larger barrel had tarnished slightly and the barrel had at some point been painted black. The inlay was carefully cleaned with 0000 wire wool, taking care not to damage the surrounding patina.  The barrel was cleaned using a high pressure steam system to remove the paint. The other barrels were cleaned using a pH neutral detergent and water. The barrels were then gently heated using a propane torch and a clear wax applied to the warmed surface. After cooling two more coats of wax were applied to the surface before buffing to a soft sheen.

As per the agreed treatment proposal, the cast iron carriage was stripped.  During this it was found that marking had been chiselled into the carriage and had been filled with filler. These were cleaned out and left as evidence of historical markings.

The wooden carriages were in a reasonable condition.  The rot was removed and the wood treated with a wood preserver before splicing in new sections of wood. The wheel was replaced with a new one made to the same design.

After the repairs were finished the carriages were painted with the paint system specified by the Royal Armouries.