Ordnance Board etc

Object Title

Ordnance Board etc

Ordnance Board etc





Access Conditions

Open access

Reproduction Conditions

Crown Copyright

Administrative / Biographical History

An Ordnance Board was established in 1588 after the threat of invasion by the Armada. In 1855 the Ordnance Department, as it had then become known, was abolished and replaced by an Ordnance Select Committee answerable to the Secretary of State for War. After the dissolution of this Committee in 1868 there followed a period of 13 years which saw the growth of a number of special committees appointed from timt to time to deal with various subjects on which the Director of Artillery and Stores required advice. These ten committees were: On Explosive Substances (created May 1869), On Stores and Fitments in Magazines (Created Nov. 1870), On Mounting and Working of Heavy Rifled Guns (June 1872), On Range Finders for Field and Coast Batteries (Dec. 1872), On Transprot and Storage of Gunpowder and Guncotton (Nov. 1874), On Siege Carriages (Feb. 1878), On Ordnance (July 1879), On Machine Guns and Machine Arms (Feb. 1879), On Friction Tubes (May 1880) and On Rockets (no date of appointment given). This resulted in much confusion and duplication of work and so in 1181 the Ordnance Committee was reformed. Thereafter, it retained its function although there were several changes of name between Ordnance Board and Ordnance Committee, largely as a result of amalgamations with other bodies such as the Ordnance Research Board (1908), Royal Artillery Committee (1915) and the Small Arms Committee (1939). The committee also changed its ministerial accountability from the War Office to the Ministry of Munitions (1915), to the War Office (1919), to the Ministry of Supply and Ministry of Aviation (1939), before returning to the War Office in 1960 and subsequently the Ministry of Defence. The Ordnance Board was an inter service body. Initially presided over by the army with a permanent naval vice president, the presidency was rotated between all three services after the inclusion of a vice president (Air) in 1940. The Board provided independent authoritative advice on the development and design of weapons, ammunition and explosives. When the Ministry of Supply was set up in August 1939 it took over from the War Office the superintendence of the Ordnance Board. This was a consultative and research body dealing with artillery matters, consisting of experts from and working for all three services [A history of the Ordnance Board, by Brigadier N. Skentelbery]