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Electric winch catapults trebuchet into the spotlight at Warwick Castle

15 May 2024

WHEN BRITAIN'S largest working siege machine returned to Warwick Castle recently to form the centrepiece of a new show - The Legend of the Trebuchet - the castle needed a way to provide the correct tensioning for this monster of ancient and medieval warfare.

Hearing the call to arms, Hoist and Winch duly supplied a class-leading Hadef electric winch offering 1500 Kg pulling force (safe working load) with supporting frame and foundations.

The trebuchet at Warwick Castle is an authentic recreation of one of the biggest and most deadly military machines of all time. Utilising a long rotating arm and the principles of leverage to launch projectiles from a sling, a trebuchet is essentially a huge catapult. It was powerful enough to hurl huge rocks that could breach castle walls. Sometimes it would even launch manure and dead animals into besieged castles to spread disease. It remained a common warfare weapon until the 15th century, when gunpowder and cannons came to the fore.

To showcase the power of the mighty trebuchet and bring a highly entertaining and educational spectacle to the banks of the River Avon next to Warwick Castle, a new show - The Legend of the Trebuchet - opened on 23 March. In the lead-up, Warwick Castle required the services of a high-performance electric winch to ensure reliable and repeatable tensioning of the trebuchet prior to launching its projectiles. The choice was a Hadef electric-powered wire-rope winch, delivered and installed by Hoist and Winch as part of a turnkey project.

After an initial site survey to discuss the requirements of this highly unusual application and specify the winch design features, Hoist and Winch returned to oversee a test fire of the trebuchet and measure its pulling force with a load cell and site tractor. Once complete, Hoist and Winch was in position to make a formal offer, comprising fully specified winch, mounting frame and foundation base.

At the centre of the solution is a Hadef 400 V, three-phase, 50 Hz electric winch that delivers 1500 kg pulling force from its 25 m rope length. Control is via a low-voltage radio remote with back-up plug-in pendant. Features of note include: a pressure roller for the wire rope drum; four-position top/bottom geared limit switches; a galvanised steel mounting frame for the winch; and electrical enclosures with IP66 protection rating.

Following order receipt and drawing approval, Hoist and Winch commenced on-site installation and commissioning, a process that included individual hydraulic pull tests of the resin anchor bolts for the winch frame. Test firing of the trebuchet also took place with measurement of the pulling force using a load cell for the LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations) certificate. Hoist and Winch also took care of customer handover training and issue of the LOLER Thorough Examination report.

Anyone interested in seeing the trebuchet in action can buy a ticket for The Legend of the Trebuchet, which runs until 4 November 2024. Built to a centuries-old design (with a little help from the latest electric winch technology), this incredible weapon takes centre stage in a show that combines thrilling live action and special effects throughout. 

Visit www.hoistandwinch.co.uk for further information and to view recent case studies.