I cheered up by wandering in to see the 100 ton gun at Napier of Magdala Battery. I’ve been past the gun battery a few times as it’s en route to Rosia Bay.
Every time I’ve walked past before, it’s been closed, although the person on the desk assured me it only shuts for two days a year.
Entrance fee is £1, which is pretty reasonable – there is some interesting history stuff about the gun, and then you get to poke around it outside. Plus the views are spectacular.
Apparently it was meant to fire up to eight miles, in a wide sweep from San Roque, La Linea, Algeciras right out to sea, but the blurb says it was unlikely that it would have been accurate, with a max more likely of five miles at the most.
It was made by Armstrong in Newcastle (UK) in the 1870s. Armstrong initially built 100 ton guns for the Italian Navy, some reports say four, others say six, and others say eight. Four guns were then built for the Royal Navy, two were sent to Malta and two were sent to Gibraltar. The only surviving ones are this one in Gib, and one at Fort Rinella in Malta.
From the dock at Rosia to the battery took three weeks to transport the gun, a mere third of a mile. It was put together between 1878 and 1884, and cost £35,717.
The one at Napier was originally at Victoria Battery (current fire station next to the Alameda Gardens/cable car), but it was moved to Napier when the gun there split during firing practice.
It was last fired in 2002 – with a minimum charge rather than the intended 450 lb charge – as part of a joint heritage conference between Gibraltar and Malta.
So, some photos:
A commemoration to Nelson outside the battery – his body was brought to Rosia after the battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
Inside the entrance to the exibition.
Into the loading bay. The gun’s barrel was aligned with the opening – and the projectiles and charges were hydraulically lifted from the magazine and then pushed into the muzzle of the gun using a giant ramrod.
One of the stories told about the gun is that it repeatedly failed to fire during a demonstration for the Inspector General of Artillery in 1902. After waiting the required 30 minutes the general asked for a volunteer to climb down inside the barrel and attach equipment to unload the gun – and risk being blasted across the bay.
Outside – and – the gun.
The plaque reads: Refurbished by 101 Battalion REME Marble Tor 2 June 2006.
And from the other side..
An anti-aircraft gun from WWII.
Looking south towards Europe Point, the Straits of Gibraltar and Morocco.
Looking across the Bahia de Algeciras.
Definitely worth a visit as part of Gib’s naval heritage.