For over four centuries the royal Ordnance had its headquarters in the Tower of London. Its duties included the provision of arms, notably artillery, when the monarch raised an army. In 1683 it became the civil Board of Ordnance and was charged with the responsibility of procuring, storing and issuing arms, ammunition and other military equipment.
Until 1855, when the Board moved from the Tower to Woolwich, it was also responsible for the Royal Artillery and the Royal Engineers, as well as for a body called the Field Train. From 1875 it was divided into two departments - the Military Store Department (officers) and the Military Store Staff (soldiers), which were renamed the Ordnance Store Department (officers) and the Ordnance Store Branch (soldiers).
In 1896 these became the Army Ordnance Department (officers) and the Army Ordnance Corps (soldiers). It was renamed the Royal Army Ordnance Corps after the Great War. During this war, its ranks swelled to some 16,000 soldiers who managed to deliver some 5 million tonnes of ammunition.