The origins of Woolwich Arsenal

October 19, 1907
Woolwich Arsenal, according to an old tradition, owes it origins to an explosion. It happened at Moor Fields, where the Ordnance Department were recasting a number of cannons captured by the Duke of Marlborough. Among those present was a young Swiss mechanic named Schlack, who pointed out to the Surveyor-General that the moulds to receive the molten metal were still wet. But the Surveyor-General, with a haughty contempt for “foreigners,” would not listen to advice, and the metal was run. The result was a terrible explosion and loss of many lives, and a further result was the calling of Schlack to the Ordnance Office, where, having further proved his ability, he was commanded to find a site for a new arsenal, and he dropped on Woolwich. The story, it may be added, does not state that the intelligent Swiss subsequently became Lord Mayor of London.
(Source: Portsmouth Evening News: October 26, 1907)


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