DERBYSHIRE HERITAGE Derbyshire Peak District - higger-tor

Cannon Bollard at Arkwright's Mill, Cromford

Cannon bollard at Cromford

Although it may look similar to numerous other cast iron bollards, this one standing outside Arkwright's Mill at Cromford is reputed to be a cannon bollard i.e. a cannon muzzle with a cannon ball set in its mouth. The manufacture of these supposedly began in the 18th century as a suitable use for redundant cannons.

Cannons would have been used at Arkwright's Mill (along with many other Mills) as it was found necessary to protect the Mill from attack by rioters during the Luddite rebellions. Arkwright's Chorley Mill had been destroyed in 1779 and as a consequence he put in protective measures at Cromford with 'Fifteen hundred Stand of small Arms ... a great Battery of Cannon' and 'upwards of five hundred Spears ... fixt in Poles of between 2 and 3 Yards long.' However there was never any need to use any of this.
In the early 19th century Luddites protested against the changes produced by the Industrial Revolution, which they felt were leaving them without work and changing their entire way of life. Often mechanized loom were destroyed as they were so efficient that they put framework knitters (who worked from home) out of work. For a short time the movement was so strong that it clashed in battles with the British Army. A mass trial at York in 1812 resulted in many executions and penal transportation. The term Luddite is now used to describe anyone opposed to technological progress and change.

In support of the cannon ball theory there does appear to be a ball roughly welded into the top of a consistently shaped barrel i.e. cannon and ball.

Conversely there is also an argument to be made to imply that this is not a cannon and cannon ball because although the bollards have individual variations and are not consistent in manufacture from one to another this was not unusual for castings of that era for a number of reasons. For example mould making, casting methods and analysis of the iron to name but a few.

A renowned maker of street furniture has added interesting insight into this conundrum stating that he has found no reference to an original cannon being used in this situation and as cast iron obviously lasts 100's of years is surprised that this has never been validated.

Thanks to Scott Schafer at ASF Architectural Street Furnishings for his expert comments on this anomaly.

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