The Martini Henry Rifle

The Martini Henry Rifle was the standard issue weapon for the British army from 1871 until 1889. It was produced at the Royal Small Arms Manufactory at Enfield and it was named after Friedrich von Martini, a Swiss engineer and Alexander Henry, a Scottish gunsmith. This rifle was used by the British in the Second Afghan War, The Zulu Wars and the Boer War.

The Martini Henry was a breech loading rifle, unlike previous rifles which were muzzle loading; this means that the bullet was put into the beginning of the gun barrel rather than the end. A breech loader can be loaded and fired much more quickly than a muzzle loader. A soldier with a Martini Henry could fire 20 shots a minute.

The under lever was pulled towards the trigger to open a compartment in the breech so the bullet could be inserted, and then the lever was pushed back again.

The bullet was properly known as a cartridge. It was 3.12 inches (79mm) long. The outside casing was made of brass. Inside was a lead pellet weighing 480 grains (31 grams) which was covered in white paper; and 85 grains (5.5 grams) of gunpowder. Between the gunpowder and the lead was a piece of board then a slug of beeswax then another piece of board. This beeswax acted as a lubricant when the bullet was fired. At the base of the cartridge was a cap of primer, a substance which explodes easily. The diameter of the cartridge was .45 inches (11.6mm) so the Martini Henry is referred to as a .45 calibre rifle.

When the trigger of the rifle was pulled, a spring caused a hammer to hit the bottom of the cartridge and explode the primer. The gunpowder caught fire and the lead pellet flew out of the barrel of the rifle, leaving the cartridge case to fall out of the rifle breech.

The cartridges were kept wrapped up in paper packets of 10 and carried in wooden ammunition boxes. The soldier had to reload after every shot.

The rifle had an effective range of 400 yards (370 m) and a maximum range of 1,900 yards (1,700 m).

— Hilary Greenwood

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We at Shoreham Fort can't do any of the work we are able to without the help and support of many people, if you would like to contribute please click the donate button below. Your donations will go towards materials and equipment to help us restore the Fort.

The Friends of Shoreham Fort.

More then 6133 hours have been contributed... Why don't you join in? Find out more here.

We're always in need of equipment, tools, and items at the fort... here's a few things on our wish list:


Purchased with funding raised through a week of community fundraising in Shoreham Branch

A big THANK-YOU to Santander for the donation!

Doors for Food for Fort and Nissen Hut

A big THANK-YOU to Vevo Vision for the donation!


We have four main events of the year, the biggest being our Military History Weekend - Sponsors of any of our events would be very welcome - please contact us


Bid writers / Architects / Fundraisers

Hand tools

We are getting to the end of the useful life of our trowels, hand garden forks and equipment that we use for carefully weeding around the Scheduled Monument. Any small hand tools would be gratefully received.

Barrack Block

That would be really lovely........ We are working on it ;)

My Cloud Mirror Drive

Purchased with thanks to Shoreham and Southwick Rotary who we help when we can with book donations and especially at Christmas with our very own version of Elf and Safety lol Thank you for your continued support

A big THANK-YOU to Rotary Club of Shoreham & Southwick for the donation!

Renewal of IT/presentation equipment

With a partial award for an application to Sussex Community Foundation we have been able to increase our outreach and education programme; therefore increasing word of mouth of our project and engaging the wider community in a positive and proactive manner.

A big THANK-YOU to Sussex Community Foundation for the donation!


People are genuinely surprised when we tell them how few volunteers we have that come on site on a regular basis to help maintain and conserve the site for the enjoyment of the public. If you think you would like to get involved with this amazing project then please do get in touch or come down on one of our volunteer days. It may look like it's all hard, manual work but there really is a job for all.

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