Rare Campbeltown gun to be unveiled
Artifact is one of only two, with other in Imperial War Museum
AS A NIPPER going to school, a Campbeltown man walked past a rusting artillery gun little imagining that one day he would save it.
Years later, Willie MacDonald, 72, became Campbeltown harbour master and was instrumental in ensuring the First World War German trench mortar, known as a minenwerfer, was saved from the scrap heap.
Following restoration by a number of Campbeltown businesses the 17cm artillery piece, which could launch a 50kg shell to destroy bunkers and barbed wire, has now been mounted on a plinth at the Heritage Centre and will be officially unveiled on Sunday (May 1).
The gun’s origin in the town dates from the end of the First World War and the tale of its journey will be told at the ceremony.
On Tuesday, Mr MacDonald spoke about first seeing the gun.
He said: ‘The gun used to stand at the Stewart Road entrance to the Old Grammar School.
‘I started there in 1956, aged 12, and I walked past it every day. It was a dark dirty colour.’
Mr MacDonald became harbour master in 1990. His association with the gun was rekindled in 1992, by which time it was rusty and destined for the dump.
Mr MacDonald said: ‘On the quay, where the lifeboat building now stands, there was a flagpole and the gun was put on a cobbled stand there. I painted it shiny black but people told me that was not the right colour.’
The gun was given to the Heritage Centre and lay on the grass outside until a visitor asked about buying it, sparking further research.
Bobby Cairns shot blasted it enabling the text and serial number stamped on the breach to be read, and full details of what was discovered will be revealed on Sunday.
David and Kenny McMillan of DM Fabrications restored the gun and created a replica base to support it in a realistic firing position.
Finally, it was repainted in its original grey colour by Malcolm McMillan of the Auto Body Centre.
Kenny McMillan of DM Fabrications said: ‘The gun is a marvellous piece of engineering, and we were proud to be involved with the project.’
Alan Milstead, chairperson of the Heritage Centre, said: ‘It was only in the last few months that we discovered its true identity. The only other place to see one of these is in Britain is the Imperial War Museum.’
Sunday’s unveiling ceremony begins at 2.15pm and the Heritage Centre’s summer season starts on Monday May 2.
It will be open Monday to Thursday from 10am-4pm every week.