In December, we needed to relocate a three ton demi cannon in the Upper Deck Context Gallery to the Admiral’s Gallery next door as it was in the way of a planned new airlock. A simple task you might think, especially with the museum closed due to the Phase 2 works.
It actually required weeks of planning, two days in which everyone was available, a gantry hoist, air skates and two teams who had done this before and were unfazed by the idea. With all this arranged, we set to work, with Benbow and Crown Fine Art arriving at the Mary Rose Museum one crisp, winter morning…
The gun, one of two on display in the Mary Rose Museum that were recovered by diving pioneers the Deane Brothers in 1836, and the plinth couldn’t be moved far together so the gun had to first be lifted off the plinth and onto a trolley.
Crown Fine Art assembled the gantry hoist over the gun for lifting. After a few attempts, the slings were finally in a position which allowed the gun to lift evenly from its supports. If they hadn’t been, the gun could have nose-dived into the plinth!
Once placed onto the trolley, the gun was pushed into the Admiral’s Gallery.
The plinth itself needed to be moved by two small trolleys at either end. Lifting the plinth onto these required only the use two small levers (it’s amazing what can be achieved with levers) plus some man-power. It was then pushed into position in the Admiral’s Gallery.
The gantry was disassembled and reassembled over the plinth. We also positioned an air compressor (needed for the air skates later on) beneath the museum’s balcony.
Once again the slings were positioned on the gun and after a few attempts, the gun was raised and placed back onto its mounts on the plinth, ready for them to be moved by air skates into their final position.
All had gone well for the first day, though it was discovered that the air compressor and the air skates were incompatible without another piece to connect them. However, Crown Fine Art got straight onto the job of locating the extra piece by the next day.
The following morning the connector for the compressor had been found so we were back on track. First, Benbow carefully replaced the gun’s glass case (very important, as the acids on visitors hands can build up and damage the bronze over time!).
Next, the air skates (essentially small hovercrafts) were placed under the plinth in strategic locations that would ensure the plinth and gun were raised evenly. After a few attempts to get enough lift (notice the pattern every time it comes to lifting something?) the plinth, with the gun and case, were raised sufficiently to allow it to be carefully pushed back toward the wall.
Once in place, our Visitor Operations Manager, James Rodliff, inspected the new location and gave his seal of approval.
Benbow reinstalled the interactive display stands and the move was complete! Job done.
While this demi cannon won’t be visible to the public until summer 2016, the other gun recovered by the Deane Brothers can be seen as part of our mini-museum exhibition, which is open in the Mary Rose Museum foyer.