Object Title

Artillery ammunition - Manby's Life Saving Shot

Artillery ammunition - Manby's Life Saving Shot



Object Number



Old Tower Collection

Physical Description

Another pattern intended to be fired from a mortar with a line attached. It consists of a solid ball to which is connected a forged iron shank with a ring at the top. At the base of the shank are four upcurved hooked arms and at the top four short dounward pointing barbs, these being intended to help the shot to become entangled in the rigging of a wrecked vessel


Dimensions: Length: 1ft 2.8in (37.6cm), Diameter ball: 5.4in (13.7cm) Weight: 27lb (12.2kg)


Places England

Bibliographic References

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


Captain George William Manby (1765-1854) was the 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.