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Boring for Britain

Britain needed safe and accurate cannon, but many iron companies' cannons were neither safe nor accurate.

The Board are greatly alarmed at the frequent bursting of the Guns cast by the Carron Company of late which must be owing to some fault in their construction or the Badness of the Metal.

Board of Ordnance Office minute, March 22nd 1771.

John Wilkinson started work on a new way to make cannon. Wilkinson cast the iron cannon solid, unlike earlier ironmasters. He used a drill and then a 'boring bar with cutters or knives' to make an accurate bore.

In 1774 the Board of Ordnance tested Wilkinson's new cannons. They were a huge success. The Board ordered all cannons to be made Wilkinson's way. Rival companies tried to find out exactly how Wilkinson made his cannon. The French learned of Wilkinson's success and even sent an agent, Brigadier Marchant de la Houlière to find out the secrets of Bersham Ironworks.