Lead Shot Towers around the World

Walter Minchinton discusses the rise of buildings used for ammunition manufacture.

How would you make lead shot? This was a problem which concerned ammunition makers ever since guns were invented. An obvious method was to employ moulds and by the eighteenth century multiple moulds were in use which could produce up to twenty shot at a time. But this method was laborious and often a ridge would form where the two halves of the mould met, which was difficult to remove especially when the shot was small. You could make it by dicing or rumbling small square cut from sheet lead in a barrel until the corners were knocked off and approximately round shot was produced. This method was used until the early nineteenth century. Or you could pour molten lead through a sieve into a barrel of water but often the shot produced was distorted or egg-shaped. So none of these methods was satisfactory and meantime, with the wars of the eighteenth century, the demand for shot was growing.

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