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Report (Permission Visit) Birmingham Proof House June 2016

Discussion in 'Military Sites' started by sidibear, Jun 17, 2016.

  1. sidibear

    sidibear 28DL Regular User
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    Huge thanks for Birmingham's Hidden Spaces project for letting me be a kid in a candy store.
    Some items are behind glass so sorry in advance for picture quality.
    Brief history nicked from Wiki.
    The Birmingham Gun Barrel Proof House is a weapons proofing establishment in Banbury Street, Birmingham, UK. The building was designed by John Horton and consists of a centre bay, emphasised by a segmental parapet, which contains trophies by William Hollins. A Jacobean-style gateway was added in 1883. It is a grade II listed building.

    The Proof House was established in 1813 by an act of Parliament at the request—and expense—of the then prosperous Birmingham Gun Trade. Its remit was to provide a testing and certification service for firearms in order to prove their quality of construction, particularly in terms of the resistance of barrels to explosion under firing conditions. Such testing prior to sale or transfer of firearms is made mandatory by the Gun Barrel Proof Act of 1868, which made it an offence to sell, offer for sale, transfer, export or pawn an unproofed firearm, with certain exceptions for military organisations.

    The Proof process is that of testing a firearm for integrity using a severely overcharged cartridge, or Proof load which is fired through the gun in an armoured testing chamber. This exposes it to pressures far beyond what it would experience in normal service. It is awarded a stamped Proof Mark if it survives without either being destroyed or suffering damage from the proof load. Larger guns were tested at a shooting range in Bordesley along a railway viaduct however, the expansion of the city centre resulted in the closure of the shooting range.

    Proof may be rendered invalid if the firearm is damaged or modified significantly; at this point it is described as "out of proof" and must be re-proofed before it can be sold or transferred. Note that the correct term for a satisfactorily tested firearm is Proofed, and not Proven.
    There are penalties for non-compliance with proof laws; a fine of £5,000 may be levied for selling an unproofed or out-of proof firearm, more if a number of firearms are involved in a transaction. Tampering with, or forging, a proof mark is regarded as even more serious.

    The Proof House still exists today, largely unchanged in both purpose and construction, although it offers a wider range of services including ammunition testing and firearm accident investigation. The building contains a museum of arms and ammunition, and can be visited by prior arrangement.

    The museum’s history can be traced back to 1858 when Mr Greener a famous Birmingham Gunmaker held a meeting at the Town Hall to established a collection of firearms at the Proof House The subsequent managing committee of gun trade members set the collections criteria, namely to create an historical record of the evolutionally manufacturer of small arms including examples of modern improvement in their design, both as a reference source for master gunsmiths and their servants and to enable inventors to gain publicity for their designs. In 1873 the nucleus of the collection was formed when the Guardians purchased a collection or arms & armour from the former collection of Count Callahandra, an early Italian collector and this was added to with current trade items.

    The level of public interest did not warrant the museum’s maintenance costs and finally the Guardians presented the whole collection to the Birmingham Borough Council in August 1876.

    In the early 20th century a former Proof Master decided that a Museum of Arms should be re-established but failed to accomplish his aim. In 1996 a retired Police Officer restarted work on the library and museum and the first three museum rooms were official opened in July 2000. Since then a further three rooms have been completed and items from Count Callahandra’s collection are now on loan to it from the City.


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    This mortar was used for testing black powder samples that arrived by barge. The shot should go between 97 and 102 yards. On the 200th anniversary someone had the great idea to fire the mortar again. The shot went a lot further than they expected and they couldn’t find it, hence 7 balls instead of 8.

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    Wall display on the staircase leading to the Guardians room.

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    The Guardians room.

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    The rear courtyard.

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    The powder store. Note the lighting rods. For fire prevention the room has a built in ability to flood, it was hit by lightning recently and no one was around to flick the switch as they were too busy legging it.

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    Smoke vents on the Black Hole, the room used for testing black powder barrels and generally blowing shit up.

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    The hole in the armour plate at the end of the sandbank is from a test load in a punt gun. Marks on the brickwork in the corner are from an exploding barrel.

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    Test room for other barrels and actions. They are clamped into a vice and fired remotely.

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    The reason for proofing a barrel? To make sure it’s safe to use.

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    It’s a gun barrel proofing house, so the museum contains lots of various examples of firepower. The rest of the pics are just various gun displays and ammunition stuff.


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    The box is about the same size as a playing card.

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  2. TranKmasT

    TranKmasT We're Earth explorers
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    Opening times Monday to Thursday, 8am to 1pm then 1.45 to 4pm
    Friday's 8am to 1pm only.
    Minimum 4 people, maximum 10.


    I might go on my own, Sunday.
     
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  3. HughieD

    HughieD 28DL Regular User
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    Erm, isn't this a museum rather than urbex?
     
  4. Adders

    Adders living in a cold world
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    Always wanted to go here but it was a steep entrance fee from what I remember. Cool place, and thanks for uploading the photos, but yeah hardly exploring.
     
  5. Ordnance

    Ordnance Moderator
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    There is a fixed sum of £150 for each group visit. Min of 4 and a max of 10 visitors per group - Payment is required on the day of the visit
     
  6. sidibear

    sidibear 28DL Regular User
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    I agree, not really urbex, I posted it so people who want to see inside and can't get the chance to get there see what it's like in there.
    Didn't know about the entrance fee, I visited as part of Birmingham's hidden space project where people like myself who can't do urban exploring in the true sense of the word get to go around some buildings without the risk of losing my firearms license if I am caught.

    Look on the bright side, I didn't take a model, didn't ask for entrance details and didn't do any HDR lol
     
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  7. Yorrick

    Yorrick 28DL Regular User
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    Nothing wrong with permission visits. I wouldn't want to pay the fee so thanks for posting, it was really interesting.
     
  8. HughieD

    HughieD 28DL Regular User
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    Sorry. Don't get me wrong. Great pix and very interesting.
     
  9. wilko

    wilko 28DL Full Member
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    Awesome!
     
  10. ACID- REFLUX

    ACID- REFLUX 28DL Regular User
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    And i presume you haven"t sold out too the Gayly Fail either! So well done all all counts :thumb

    Was well worth a read, thanks for posting up;)
     
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