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Durham University

Research & business

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Publication details for Dr Mark Bennett

Bennett, Mark (2015). 'Lord Bomb' and 'The Cannon King': A Tale of Two Victorian Arms Magnates. Symeon (5): 4-7.

Author(s) from Durham


In 1854, as Europe prepared for the Crimean War, its artillery differed little from that of the armies of Waterloo forty years earlier: bronze tubes mounted on wooden carriages, dragged into visible range of the enemy, loaded from the muzzle with solid iron balls and gunpowder, and hauled back into place after every shot. In 1914, as war broke out once again, the picture had changed dramatically. Safely concealed miles away from their targets, artillery rained down high explosive shells detonating on impact, at rates inconceivable sixty years before. Two men contributed more than any others to this transformation: Britain’s William Armstrong, dubbed “Lord Bomb” by the satirical magazine Punch, and Germany’s Albert Krupp- the “Cannon King”. Founders of massive manufacturing conglomerates, they exemplified both the technological progress of the period and the fundamental shift from agriculture to industry across Europe. This article explores the way in which their businesses grew, and how this growth was affected by a combination of events, personality and wider social and cultural trends.