HC Deb 08 May 1873 vol 215 cc1680-1

asked the Surveyor General of Ordnance, Whether any experiments have been made to test the strength and quality of the Belgian pebble powder; and, if so, with what results, as compared with that made by the Government and by private English firms; and, whether the Belgian pebble powder, contracted for at sixty-nine shillings per barrel, is of the same strength and quality as that marked P. on page 146, Statement C., of the manufacture in the Royal Gunpowder Factory, Waltham Abbey, and there stated to cost sixty-three shillings and three-pence per barrel?


Sir, the Belgian pebble powder has been proved in the usual way, which consists in firing from one to three rounds, as may be found necessary, from an 8-inch gun with 35 lb. charge of powder and 180-pounder shot, to test the muzzle velocity and pressure within the gun. The velocity should be within the limits of 1,420 feet to 1,480 feet, and the pressure not exceeding 20 tons on any one point. It is also tested for density, size, and appearance of the pebbles and absorption of moisture. If the powder does not fulfil these tests it is rejected. As to the results, the. percentage of rejections of the Belgian powder amounted to 26 per cent on the whole quantity supplied, while that of the private English firms varied from 28 per cent as a minimum to 49 per cent as a mean. As regards our own manufacture, it has to pass the same proofs as other powders supplied by the trade. The Belgian pebble powder, contracted for at 69s., is delivered under the same specifications as the powder manufactured at Waltham Abbey during the year ending 31st of March, 1872, of which the price by Balance Sheet No. 2 was 63s. 3d.