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Object: Cannon, from HMB Endeavour.

This image has Some Rights Reserved. Creative Commons BY-NC-ND Creative Commons BY-NC-ND copyright licence

Title Cannon, from HMB Endeavour.
Production Christopher, Joseph (ironsmith), circa 1750, England
Materials cast iron, wood
Classification cannons
Technique casting
Dimensions Overall: 820mm (Height) x 1880mm (Length) x 910mm (Width/Depth)
Credit line Gift of the Australian Government, 1970
Registration number DM000477

This cannon is one of six recovered in 1969 from the Great Barrier Reef, where they were thrown overboard from Captain James Cook's ship the Endeavour in 1770.

Aground
At eleven o'clock on the night of 11 June 1770, with the tide high, the Endeavour ran onto a coral reef and stuck fast. For weeks, James Cook had been painstakingly manoeuvring north along the eastern coast of Australia through a labyrinth of islands and sandy shoals. Little did he know that he was travelling into a funnel formed by the coast on one side and the Great Barrier Reef to the east. It was only a matter of time before the ship would come up against a ripping spur of coral. Running aground was amoung the worst fears of crew on a lone ship in unknown waters half a world away from home.

Man the pumps!
Six cannons were heaved overboard to lighten the ship, along with the gun carriages, some ship's ballast, barrels, and rotting stores - about fifty tonnes in all. The hope was that the ship would float free on the next high tide. She didn't. At low tide she heeled over and started taking on water. But with everybody on board, including the gentlemen naturalists, manning the pumps for fifteen-minute turns, she floated off on the next high tide. The crew nursed her gently ashore at the next available harbour, and spent about a month carrying out repairs before resuming the voyage.

Objects from Cook's voyages
Te Papa has significant collections of objects from Cook's voyages of discovery. This cannon was given to New Zealand by the Australian Government to mark the bicentenary of Cook's first New Zealand visit.

Related information

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