Tsar Alexander inspects the 'infants' school' at Woolwich, 1874.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Plate taken from the 'Illustrated London News' (Vol 74/1 p 601). Tsar Alexander's visit to England in 1874 included a trip to the Crystal Palace, the Albert Hall, and a review of troops as well as this inspection of naval weaponry. Since 1867, the race to develop new gunnery capable of defeating iron-clad opponents had been based on muzzle loaders. By 1874, these weighed around 35 tons, leading to them being ironically referred to as the 'infants'. These guns were used on ironclads such as HMS 'Devastation', whose building had excited much attention because of the ships' unusual weight.