Community Events

Restored WWI cannon gets warm welcome from veterans, Medina community

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 May 2019 at 2:42 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA - A World War I cannon is hoisted from a trailer this morning at State Street Park. The cannon returned to Medina following more than a year of restoration work by Seed Artillery Reproduction and Restoration, in Altoona, Pa.

The B.L. 60 Pounder British field gun was a fixture at State Street Park since 1935. It was hauled away on March 12, 2018 for its restoration work.

These veterans capture the moment of the cannon being lifted from the trailer. They include from left Ken Schaal, Larry Szatkowski and Dave Higgins.

Local veterans gather around the cannon after it was put back at State Street Park this morning.

The cannon was falling apart. Dave Seedenberg of Seed Artillery Reproduction and Restoration was in Medina this morning to watch the cannon be put back in pace at the local park.

Seedenberg completely stripped and disassembled the cannon, and needed to fabricate some new parts. The big 15,000-pound gun was reassembled and painted with historic accuracy.

"It's absolutely stunning," said George Bidleman, owner of Orleans Ford who paid the $40,000 restoration cost. "It's beautiful."

Local veterans including Earl Schmidt (left), the County's Veterans Service Agency director, push the cannon in place.

There are only 10 of the cannons like this remaining, with five in Europe and five in the United States, said Jim Freas, a past commander of the Butts-Clark Post for the American Legion in Medina.

"We have one of them," Freas said. "It's priceless."

The cannon needed a little push to be centered on the concrete pad.

The Orleans Renaissance Group pushed to have the cannon restored. Chris Busch, chairman of the ORG, thought it might take a few years to raise the money. But Bidleman offered to cover the entire cost of the cannon restoration.

The ORG also raised $12,000 for three new flag poles, a new granite slant for a plaque about the cannon, and other site improvements. Orleans Ready Mix also donated the concrete where the cannon is displayed.

The new flag poles will carry flags for the United States, Great Britain and France. The cannon was manufactured in 1916 by Elswick Ordnance Company, Newcastle upon Tyne, England. It was used in battle in France and fired 2,871 rounds during its first tour. It was returned to England in 1917 for repairs and reissued to battery in France, September 1918, firing an additional 1,471 rounds.

George Bidleman, left, is presented a photo of the cannon with local veterans by Glenn Whitmore, commander of the American Legion Post in Medina.

"When George stepped forward we couldn't believe it," Whitmore said. "His heart is bigger than he is."

Bidleman shook hands with each veteran at the park today, thanking them for their service. He said he was happy to help with the restoration of a prominent local landmark.

Whitmore said the cannon will be rededicated during the Memorial Day celebration on May 27. He said it will be a big event, and he welcomed veterans of all eras for the observance, and then an additional celebration at the American Legion, which is marking its 100th anniversary this year.

"It's something that's not being taken away because we're losing so much of our history every day," Whitmore said about the cannon. "Memorial Day is going to be a big day for this village and county."

WJW Associates in Syracuse delivered the cannon to Medina this morning. The trucking company picked up the cannon in Altoona on Tuesday and brought it to Salamanca last night, before leaving this morning for Medina.

Jeff Karol of WJW said he got a lot of friendly honks and waves bringing the cannon up on Route 219 to Buffalo and then the Thruway this morning.

George Bidleman, left, watches the cannon be delivered to its spot in front of State Street Park.

Ron Ettinger, left, of Lyons Collision in Medina helps steer the cannon in place while a group of people, including Medina Mayor Mike Sidari (center), help push the cannon back on the concrete pad.

Seed Artillery Reproduction and Restoration put a small plaque on the cannon noting the restoration efforts were completed this year. The cannon was rusty with rot in spots and was missing chucks that Seed recreated.

Jeff Lyons, left, of Lyons Collision works with John Beauman of Beauman's Garage in Lockport to remove straps from the cannon. Beaumont's Garage brought a crane with a rotator to remove the cannon from the trailer.

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World War One cannon arrives at State Street Park in Medina

Staff Reports Posted 1 May 2019 at 10:21 am

After 14 months of restoration work, the 6-ton British field gun that has been a fixture in Medina since 1935 arrives on a flat bed truck. The cannon will be placed on a new concrete pad today with new flagpoles and lighting.

 

The 6-ton cannon was completely stripped, reassembled and painted. George Bidleman paid the $40,000 restoration cost, with help from the Orleans Renaissance Group and Orleans Ready Mix. The cannon will be ready for this year's Memorial Day observance on May 27.

Restored WWI cannon coming back to Medina on May 1

Staff Reports Posted 24 April 2019 at 4:09 pm

Provided photos: Parts on the cannon from World War I looks like new after more than a year of restoration work.

MEDINA - A World War I cannon will be going back to Medina on May 1 following 14 months of restoration work.

Seed Artillery Reproduction and Restoration stripped and disassembled the field gun, and created new parts. The gun was then reassembled and painted with historic accuracy.

The B.L. 60 Pounder British field gun was a fixture at State Street Park since 1935. It was hauled away on March 12, 2018 for its restoration work.

The cannon was falling apart. George Bidleman, owner of Orleans Ford, paid the $40,000 cost to have the cannon restored by Dave Seedenberg of Seed Artillery Reproduction and Restoration in Altoona, Pa.

The field gun was completely stripped and disassembled, new parts were fabricated, and the gun was reassembled and painted with historic accuracy.

The cannon is expected to arrive back in Medina at State Street Park at 10 a.m. on May 1. The cannon will be placed on a new concrete pad with new flagpoles, lighting, and a new granite slate for the original plaque. Those were paid for with donations through the Orleans Renaissance Group with the concrete donated by Orleans Ready Mix.

The cannon, manufactured in 1916, was fired during World War I. There are few of these cannons left in the world.

Every Memorial Day for about 80 years, the Medina community has gathered by the cannon for the solemn ceremony. The cannon wasn't there for Memorial Day last year. It will be back for the observance this Memorial Day, May 27.

The cannon is a British Heavy Field Gun known as a B.L. 60 Pounder, manufactured in 1916 by Elswick Ordnance Company, Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

It weighs 6 tons, is a 5 inch/127mm caliber, 21 feet in length and 6 feet in width. The gun was originally issued to battery in France, April 1917, and fired 2,871 rounds during its first tour. It was returned to England in 1917 for repairs and reissued to battery in France, September 1918, firing an additional 1,471 rounds.

Photo by Tom Rivers: Veterans watch a World War I cannon be loaded up on a trailer on march 12, 2018. The cannon was taken to Altoona, Pa., the location of Seed Artillery Reproduction and Restoration. George Bidleman, Orleans Ford owner, is second from right.


Thanks to the generosity of Orleans Ford's owner

Medina's WWI cannon at State Street Park heading to Pa. for restoration

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 February 2018 at 9:45 pm

Provided photos: A cannon that was used in World War I about a century ago will be removed from State Street Park in Medina on March 12 and taken for restoration work in Altoona, Pa.

MEDINA - A cannon used in World War I that has been a prominent memorial at State Street Park will get much-needed restoration work beginning next month.

The cannon, manufactured in 1916, was fired during World War I. Every Memorial Day for about 80 years, the Medina community has gathered by the cannon for the solemn ceremony.

The cannon, however, has become badly deteriorated and will be restored for $40,000. George Bidleman of Orleans Ford is raising the funds for the project.

The Orleans Renaissance Group first pushed for saving the cannon about two years ago. The VFW and American Legion both supported the effort.

"She is in dire need of being restored - not just the paint but the whole body," said David Kusmiersczak, a member of the Legion.

The cannon has become badly deteriorated. It will be refurbished and should last another century.

The cannon will be moved on March 12 and taken to Altoona, Pa. That is the location of Seed Artillery Reproduction and Restoration.

The cannon will be stripped down. The parts will be repaired and re-manufactured if necessary. The gun will be primed and painted with epoxy primer and finished to match the original WWI paint scheme.

Seed Artillery will try to have the project done in time to be back in Medina for Veterans Day in November, said Steve Johnson, American Legion commander in Medina.

The cannon will return to a concrete base and landscape improvements. The Orleans Renaissance Group also is working to add new flagpoles and an interpretive sign at the site.

The cannon is a British Heavy Field Gun known as a B.L. 60 Pounder, manufactured in 1916 by Elswick Ordnance Company, Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

It weighs 6 tons, is a 5 inch/127mm caliber, 21 feet in length and 6 feet in width. The gun was originally issued to battery in France, April 1917 and fired 2,871 rounds during its first tour. It was returned to England in 1917 for repairs and reissued to battery in France, September 1918, firing an additional 1,471 rounds.

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World War I cannon heads to Pennsylvania for restoration

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 March 2018 at 11:54 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA - A cannon from World War I that has been a fixture at State Street Park for about 80 years is leaving Medina for several months. A group of local veterans gathered at the park this morning to watch it be loaded on a flatbed owned by Automotive Solutions.

The cannon, manufactured in 1916, was fired during World War I. The cannon was moved from the front of State Street Park on Friday by the Medina DPW to back of the park so it could more easily be loaded up for a five-hour trip to Altoona, Pa. That is the location of Seed Artillery Reproduction and Restoration.

"It's a piece of history," said Jim Freas, commander of the VFW in Medina.

Steve Johnson is commander of the American Legion in Medina. His grandfather also served in World War I a century ago.

"This cannon is part of our heritage," Johnson said. "We have to preserve our history."

George Bidleman, owner of Orleans Ford, is paying $40,000 to have the cannon restored. Bidleman started at Orleans Ford as general manager in 1987. In 2002, he became the owner. He said the cannon is a prominent memorial, a reminder of the sacrifices of veterans.

"They all risked their lives," he said about veterans.

Bidleman, center, is pictured with local veterans and Eileen Banker, chief of staff for State Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

The cannon was manufactured in 1916 and was fired during World War I. Every Memorial Day for about 80 years, the Medina community has gathered by the cannon for the solemn ceremony.

The cannon, however, has become badly deteriorated and will be restored for $40,000. George Bidleman of Orleans Ford is raising the funds for the project.

The cannon will be stripped down. The parts will be repaired and re-manufactured if necessary. The gun will be primed and painted with epoxy primer and finished to match the original WWI paint scheme.

The Orleans Renaissance Group first pushed for saving the cannon about two years ago. The VFW and American Legion both supported the effort. The ORG raised $12,000 that will be used for site improvements for when the cannon comes back, which could be in time for Veterans' Day in November.

Local veterans including David Kusmiersczak and Glenn Whitmore watched the cannon be pulled to the road in the park, so it could be put on the truck.

The cannon is a British Heavy Field Gun known as a B.L. 60 Pounder, manufactured in 1916 by Elswick Ordnance Company, Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

It weighs 6 tons, is a 5 inch/127mm caliber, 21 feet in length and 6 feet in width. The gun was originally issued to battery in France, April 1917 and fired 2,871 rounds during its first tour. It was returned to England in 1917 for repairs and reissued to battery in France, September 1918, firing an additional 1,471 rounds.

Chris Seefeldt, left, of Automotive Solutions works with owner Shawn Callard, right, to secure the cannon on the truck for the trip to Pennsylvania.

The cannon is strapped down for the trip.

Automotive Solutions heads down State Street with the cannon.


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