Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)

The Storage of Gunpowder (S562a: 1899)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: A letter to the Editor of The Daily Chronicle (London) printed on page eleven of its 24 March 1899 issue. To link directly to this page connect with:

How It May be Rendered Safe.

     Sir,--The terrible explosion of gunpowder at Toulon having again directed attention to this subject, I hope you will allow me briefly to describe a mode of storage which would ensure absolute safety. In 1882 I forwarded my detailed plan to Sir Thomas Brassey, then Civil Lord of the Admiralty, who sent me a memorandum of the Director of Naval Ordnance upon it, in which it was said:--"For permanent depots of powder the idea seems worthy of attention, and Mr. Wallace might address the War Office on the subject." Being engaged in literary work at the time, and knowing something of the enormous difficulty of satisfying the authorities as to the advantage of anything so completely new, I took no further steps in the matter.

     The plan proposed was, to store powder and all other explosives in hexagonal or cylindrical metallic drums, fitted with air-tight but easily removable lids or caps. The drums to be all of uniform height, and to be stored in shallow tanks and kept covered with a few inches of water by an automatic regulator. By this simple method all the elaborate and costly precautions against accidental explosion would be unnecessary, while even wilful explosion would be almost impossible. I shall be happy to lend my paper to any Member of Parliament or other person who will urge its adoption by the authorities.

--Yours truly,
Alfred R. Wallace.
Parkstone, Dorset, March 16.

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