Catalogue description Records of the Ordnance Board

Details of Division within SUPP
Reference: Division within SUPP
Title: Records of the Ordnance Board

Records of the Ordnance Board relating to consultative and research duties concerning artillery matters.

Includes material which would otherwise be found amongst the Records of the Ordnance Office and its successors at the War Office (WO).

Reports and proceedings of the board are in SUPP 6.

Date: 1844-1981
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Ministry of Defence, Board of Ordnance, 1964-1973

Ministry of Munitions, Board of Ordnance, 1915-1920

Ministry of Supply, Board of Ordnance, 1939-1959

Ordnance Office, Board of Ordnance, 1683-1855

War Office, Board of Ordnance, 1855-1915

War Office, Board of Ordnance, 1920-1939

War Office, Board of Ordnance, 1959-1964

Physical description: 1 series
Administrative / biographical background:

An Ordnance Board was established in 1588 after the threat of invasion by the Armada. In 1855 the Ordnance Department, as it had then become known, was abolished and replaced by an Ordnance Select Committee answerable to the Secretary of State for War.

In 1868 this committee was split into ten smaller committees under a Council of Ordnance. This resulted in confusion and duplication of work and the Ordnance Committee was reformed in 1881.

Thereafter, it retained its function although there were several changes of name between Ordnance Board and Ordnance Committee, largely as a result of amalgamations with other bodies such as the Ordnance Research Board (1908), Royal Artillery Committee (1915) and the Small Arms Committee (1939).

The committee also changed its ministerial accountability from the Ministry of Munitions to the War Office, Ministry of Supply and Ministry of Aviation before returning to the War Office in 1960 and subsequently the Ministry of Defence.

The Ordnance Board was an inter service body. Initially presided over by the army with a permanent naval vice president, the presidency was rotated between all three services after the inclusion of a vice president (Air) in 1940. The board provided independent authoritative advice on the development and design of weapons, ammunition and explosives.

When the Ministry of Supply was set up in August 1939 it took over from the War Office the superintendence of the Ordnance Board. This was a consultative and research body dealing with artillery matters, consisting of experts from and working for all three services.

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