Saturday, April 11, 2015

Oops . . .

Looks like a medieval re-enactment went wrong at Warwick Castle in England yesterday.  The Telegraph reports:

Hundreds of tourists have been evacuated from Warwick Castle after a burning cannonball fired from the world's largest working siege machine destroyed a medieval boathouse by fire.

Sparks from the cannonball which was fired from the wooden trebuchet ignited the roof of the ancient boathouse causing a blaze on Friday night.

More than 30 firefighters attended the scene after the fire broke out at 5.54pm.

. . .

The Trebuchet Fireball Spectacular is one of the Castle's main attractions.

It was built in 2005, stands 60ft high, weighs 22 tonnes and has been fired at least 6,500 times.

The historic boathouse, which was destroyed in the blaze, dates back to 1896 when the 5th Earl, Frances Greville, had it built to house an electric boat which he powered by batteries charged from the electricity generated by the castle's mill.

A spokesperson for Warwick Castle said the trebuchet would continue firing shots but only dry ones rather than fireballs until the investigation into the blaze is completed.

There's more at the link.

Here's a video clip recorded in 2009 of the trebuchet demonstration at Warwick Castle, firing a flaming ball.  The boathouse that caught fire yesterday can be seen in the last frames of the video.

Pity about the boathouse, but it was only a little more than a century old.  That's almost brand-new in comparison to the age of the castle itself.  They can always rebuild it.



Glen said...

The journalist meant to say "a late Victorian boathouse".

Is there *any* news story that is accurate?

Glenn B said...

The obvious solution to this problem would be to ban trebuchets and flaming balls, ban boathouses, sue and possibly jail those who operated the trebuchets, sue the manufacturer of the trebuchet, and reelect/rehire the politicians and bureaucrats who allowed it all to happen.

Anonymous said...

interesting .. something must have gone REALLY wrong here ..

basically a trebuchet is considered dangerous to anything in the plane the arm moves (this is why you have the audience to the SIDES of it) ... becauce you never can be really sure where the sling will release (yes - trebuchets can shoot backwards, so you dont have audience behind it)

but that boathouse was WELL out of that plane

strange ..

Rusty Gunner said...

1. All trebuchets are always loaded.

2. Never point your trebuchet at anything you do not wish to besiege.

3. Keep your hand off the release lever until you are in battery

4. Be sure of your target, and what is within 500 yards of it.

Anonymous said...

Only the authorities should be allowed to have catapults!


Will said...

It would appear that they have really lowered the power level of that rig. That ball landed well within longbow range. No way they would have set that up that close to a castle in the real world.

Short of hurricane winds, I would propose that either the axle shaft failed, or the leader and basket that the ball is attached to was dragged offside (toward the camera position) prior to launch. There appears to be enough slack in it to do this. I wonder if basket offset was used for minor target correction in real use. That would only be feasible for lighter "ammo", as a full weight launch probably puts enough stress on the mechanism that any offset might cause breakage of parts.

Timbo said...

In the words of Jerry Lee Lewis, "Goodness, gracious..."

Anonymous said...

Hmmm..built in 1896, & the boathouse was both "ancient" and "medieval".
I do not think those words mean what the reporter thinks they mean.
--Tennessee Budd

Stuart Garfath, Sydney Australia. said...

One question. Was an insurance policy taken out on the boathouse with specific mention of a Trebuchet launched flaming projectile affected by strong winds accidentally hitting and setting fire to said boathouse?.
As Sgt Schultze would say, (stroking his chin), 'Verrry interesting".

Coconut said...

It wasn't just a Victorian boathouse, it was a Victorian boathouse built to house a Sea-Prius.

To be fair to the poor woman, 1896 IS medieval, by modern standards.
More importantly, she's just a reporter - it was one of the attendees who said it was 'medieval'.

You can't expect a journalist to figure out the difference between 1068 and 1896 - it's only 800 years difference, nowhere near as large a gap as the abyss separating the iPhone 4 and 5.

Anonymous said...

@Will: where did you shoot your trebuchet?