The guns at the Saluting Battery, Valletta

I refer to the letter by Denis A. Darmanin (August 28), who refers to the guns at the Saluting Battery as 24lb smoothbore naval guns mounted on garrison skeleton carriage.

For the record, these guns are not naval but general purpose cannons of the Blomfield type which were used on both land and sea.

Their name derives from that of Major General Sir Thomas Blomfield-Bart (1755-1822), Inspector of Artillery of the Royal Brass Foundry at Woolwich. He undertook a general reform of existing English ordnance which resulted in more balanced barrels of lighter design. He also added a breeching loop to the cascable button to pass through the breeching tackle that restrained recoil.

These guns have a calibre of 24-pounds (14cm), weigh a rough 2.6 tonnes and have a length of 2.91m. They carry the Royal cipher of King George III. When used in active service these guns could be fitted with fore and rear sights on their second reinforce and cascable respectively.

All eight guns are original pieces made by Carron Iron Works of Falkirk in Scotland (5) or Samuel Walker & Co., iron founders of Grenoside near Sheffield (3). They were made between 1790 and 1810.

All these guns were salvaged by Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna from different parts of the island for restoration and display at the Saluting Battery.

One of these guns is operated as a time-gun daily when it is fired right at midday in the same way as was done up to 1923 when the practice was discontinued.

The Saluting Battery was restored to its present state in 2004 with the help of the Malta Tourism Authority and the Bank of Valletta.

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