Object Title

3.7 in mortar and bed - Manby Mortar

3.7 in mortar and bed - Manby Mortar



Object Number



Old Tower Collection

Physical Description

Plain and without mouldings the mortar is cast in one with a bed or base which is pierced at each corner with a hole for a bolt to secure it to a wooden block. The vent is drilled in a vent-patch, there is a circular depression or pan around the vent while the surface is somewhat more corroded, below which is incised a Broad Arrow and above the weight 0-3-21. The barrel is set at an angle of 25 degrees as opposed to the normal angle for a mortar of 45 degrees


Dimensions: Length: 10 in (25.4 cm) Weight: 3 qtr 21 lb (47.6 kg)


Serial Number None visible


3.7 in _ (9.4 cm)


Places England

Bibliographic References

H.L.Blackmore, The Armouries of the Tower of London, Ordnance Catalogue, H.M.S.O. London 1976, p.105-106.


'Captain George William Manby' (1765-1854)
Inventor of a system of saving life from vessels wrecked on the coast. While stationed at Yarmouth in 1807 he witnessed the wreck of gun-brig 'Snipe' where sixty seven people died within sixty yards of the shore. In August and September of that year useing a mortar borrowed from the Board of Ordnance he demonstrated his technique of shooting a line from shore to ship. The apparatus was first used at the wreck of the brig 'Elizabeth' at Plymouth on the 12th February 1808. Two patterns of mortar were employed; a small iron mortar, of which Nos.145, 146 are examples, which were fixed by means of bolts to solid rectangular wooden beds fitted with carrying handles at the sides; these fired the small solid shot of which No. XX.76 is a specimen; and a larger, brass, mortar from which the larger shot such as Nos. 77-79 were discharged. Manby's mortars were all elevated at a low angle in order that the shot should be less effected by the wind than if fired with a high trajectory.
Manby himself published a pamphlet entitled ''An Essay on the Preservation of Shipwrecked Persons' in 1812. He became a popular figure and his portrait appeared in the 'European Magazine', July 1813. A series of articles written by Manby in 'The Gentleman's Magazine' of 1821 described and illustrated his 'Method of Rescuing Persons from Vessels stranded on a leeward shore'. His achievements were immortalised by Turner's oil painting 'Life-Boat and Manby Apparatus going off to a Stranded Vessel making Signal (blue lights) of Distress' now in the Victoria and Albert Museum (No. F.A. 211).