The biggest challenge came from the bronze cannons and their wooden gun carriages. The majority of these can be found in our large display case, opposite the remains of the hull. Three were to be positioned on the main deck and one on the upper deck. The cannons weigh between 1.3 and 2.5 tonnes and measured between 2.9 and 3.6m long. The first task was to move them into the gallery walkway opposite their intended position in the showcase. The floor is sloped to replicate that of the ship therefore the cannons needed to be slowly winched down to avoid losing control of them and subsequently damaging the newly installed 3.6m high glass panes of the showcase. The next difficulty came in how to move the cannons across into the bay and onto their mounts. This was made more challenging by a gap in the floor between the walkway and showcase as well as the ceiling height mimicking the actual height on the ship; 6 ft, barely tall enough to stand upright let alone lift a cannon using traditional lifting equipment.
Fortunately, through planning and preparing for the installation of the cannons, a unique lifting device was manufactured to combat just those problems. It allowed for lifting in areas of low height and had extensions that let it bridge the gap between the walkways and showcase. With the help of a specialist lifting team, the cannons were all moved into positions. Due to the fragility of the wooden carriages and trunnion support cheeks, after 400 years buried in the Solent, we could no longer rest the heavy cannons directly on them. Supporting steel mounts were designed and manufactured that would hold the cannons in position and allow for the gun carriages to be positioned underneath. Thanks to these innovative designs and novel installation method we have been able to display the cannons and gun carriages together for the first time, giving visitors the chance to see the impressive fire power behind Henry VIII’s great Naval flagship.