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Guns N’ Noses by Nigel Roth

Dernière mise à jour : 2 mars 2021

If, on a bright day in 1880, you were sat in the Old Tower Inn, drinking a pint of Bass and browsing the Hampshire Advertiser, you’d probably read about the British Army’s exploits in the First Boer War, or maybe the movement of the British Navy’s warships, like the 664-ton Vulture, a double-screw gunvessel commanded by the illustrious J E Pringle, and currently at anchor in Muscat, Oman.

Your peaceful reverie might be disturbed by the rough conversation of Southampton's stevedores, or some excited chatter about the new local football team, Deanery FC, or those strange explosions from underneath your feet, which shake the table and spill your warm beer.

Explosions, rumblings, shaking and tremors. The work of William Cantelo, who was busy inventing the machine gun in the tunnel below the Inn.

Now, if you were sat sixteen-hundred kilometers away in the Café Katzmayr, two years later in 1882, sipping a glass of Mohrenbräu and browsing the Neue Wiener Tagblatt, you might read about the occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, or whether the stability Count Gyula Andrássy had secured by allying with Germany still holds, or how Willhelm Steinitz and Szymon Winawer have shared first place in the second international Vienna Chess Tournament.

Here your peace could be interrupted by animated discussion about why the old cafe building was demolished, or if and when an Austrian football team will ever be created, or by the loud baritone of an inventor, regaling his American companion with the astonishing progress he’s making in his chosen career.

Accuracy, force, efficiency and rapidity. This is the work of Hiram Maxim, who was busy inventing the machine gun in his adopted London.

Cantelo had been at this for some time, creating, refining, testing, and repeating. As landlord of t