Historic cannon returned to its Dutch home

MCA's Head of Enforcement Jeremy Smart
watches on as the cannon arrives in Zierikzee.
An official ceremony marking the handing back by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency of a bronze cannon to the city where it was first made, has been held in Zierikzee, Netherlands.

The cannon had been brought ashore by commercial diver Vincent Woolsgrove from off the Kent coast but was recovered by the MCA during a search warrant executed in 2011.

Mr Woolsgrove was charged with fraud offences relating to other Dutch cannons and is currently serving a two year sentence after pleading guilty.

The minion cannon which weighs one ton and is 9 foot long, was transported back to Zierikzee using the Dutch Royal Navy minehunter named after the city.

A canal water level had to be especially raised so that the minehunter could get there.

It’s believed the minion cannon, cast in 1552, is the only one left in existence and was intended to be used for the city’s defences.

Extensive research has been carried out by Dutch archaeologists to discover how a city defence cannon came to be on the seabed. One theory suggests it was borrowed from the city for use on board a vessel during the first Anglo-Dutch war or used on a Spanish Armada vessel.

The cannon was the work of Remigy de Halvt, from Antwerp, Belgium who was a master founder. His work was well known and admired – he was also appointed ‘Cannon Founder of the Emperor Charles V’ who later became Charles I of Spain.

A permanent home for the cannon has been found in the Zierkezee city museum. 
Chief Executive of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Sir Alan Massey said, ‘This moment represents years of painstaking work by so many people, both here in the UK, in the Netherlands and even further afield. We often talk about partnership and why it matters and here is a prime example of that.

‘I’m proud that the MCA has played its part in returning this cannon to its original home in Zierkzee where future generations will be able to see and appreciate its place in their history.’


MCA Enforcement Officer Simon May,
with the cannon.


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