John D Harper


The so-called Walsall Anarchists Bomb Plot of 1892 has been discussed elsewhere for its historical and political interest and for the alleged use of an agent provocateur to entrap and convict the conspirators. This study focuses on the bombs themselves and how they were made. Surviving castings, contemporary photographs, and reports of court proceedings have been studied in the context of the processes used by the foundry that made them. The design of the castings and of the patterns from which they were made is shown to have been poor. Previously unreported design changes have been discovered, apparently made by the police after the conspirators had been arrested. These fi ndings suggest that the bombs as designed might never have worked effectively. It is concluded that, whether or not they were the victims of a police trap, the convicted men, although guilty of trying to make lethal bombs, were too incompetent to have presented any real danger.


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How to Cite
The Walsall bombs. (2021). Historical Metallurgy, 39(1), 45-56.