Few visitors to Chobham fail to notice the cannon displayed so prominently opposite the Leat. However, not many realise the fascinating story which explains its presence.
Cannon.tif (10060 bytes)Chobham’s original cannon was presented by the War Office to the village in 1901, after the death of Queen Victoria. It commemorated her visit to Chobham Common in 1853 when she reviewed some 16,000 troops shortly before the outbreak of the Crimean War.
The gun was a 20 cwt smooth-bore 24- pounder which had been used during that campaign. For the ensuing 41 years it stood on its plinth at Cannon Corner.
In 1941 and 1942, scrap metal collections were organised throughout the country to help the war effort during those desperate years. After some hesitation, Chobham’s Cannon was sent for scrap in 1942 – its plinth remained as the sole reminder.
However, the Cannon was not totally forgotten and during the early ’70s Chobhammers began to wonder if it really had been melted down during the war years. The Chobham Society undertook enquiries to learn its fate. Eventually the scrap merchant involved was traced and he confirmed that the gun and its carriage had indeed been broken up.
The next task was to seek an identical replacement or a historically appropriate ‘piece’. The search covered museums, dockyards, churchyards, the Tower of London and finally the National Artillery Museum at Woolwich. It proved impossible to obtain a complete cannon but the Society was delighted to accept, on permanent loan, an excellent and appropriate barrel bearing the date 1788, which had lain for decades under Thames mud and had recently been dredged thence.
An identical replacement cast-iron garrison gun carriage was next required. Many highly skilled local talents joined the co-operative effort. Designers, pattern makers, foundry workers, machinists and metal finishers (many of whom were local residents) offered enthusiastic help so that full assembly was completed on 1 May 1979 and the gun installed, with due ceremony, on its waiting plinth a few days later.