Fort Rinella is one of a series of four coastal batteries built by the British in Malta and in Gibraltar between the years 1878 and 1886. The purpose for building these forts was for each of them to house an Armstrong 100-ton gun. The building of these forts was necessitated by Britain’s fear of losing her naval superiority in the Mediterranean to Italy, who was at the time rebuilding her navy to an unprecedented strength.

In Malta two sites, at the mouth of the Grand Harbour, were identified to mount the 100-ton guns. Two batteries of a standard pattern were built. One of the batteries was built at Sliema and the other was built at Rinella. The overall design of each battery was that of an irregular pentagon surrounded by a deep ditch, which was enfiladed by three caponiers and a counter-scarp gallery. The forts were built on two levels – underground were the magazine and two loading-chambers; at ground level were the accommodation area and machinery chambers.

The 100-ton gun presently at Fort Rinella arrived in Malta from Woolwich in 1882. After some months the gun was ferried from the Dockyard to Rinella Bay from where it was transported to Fort Rinella. The gun had to be manhandled all the way to the fort. The operation, which involved about 100 men from the 1st Brigade Scottish R.A. Division, lasted three months. Finally in January 1884 the gun was brought into position and was ready for use. The gun was mounted en barbette on a wrought-iron sliding carriage. In this position the gun fired over the top of the parapet of the emplacement without the need of exposing the gun-crew to enemy fire. Given its massive proportions the gun could not be worked manually, therefore an ingenious hydraulic system was used to traverse it and to load it. This makes Fort Rinella the first battery to have had a gun worked by mechanical means.

After the fort was completed in 1886, War Department inspectors visited the fort and found that the design needed alteration in order to render it more effective against bombardment. Consequently most of the masonry riveting within the emplacement was removed and two musketry positions on the roof were completely filled in with earth. Modifications were also carried out to the gun’s machinery so as to render it more efficient.

In 1906, after just twenty years in service, the 100-ton guns in British service were declared obsolete. As a consequence of the 100-ton gun being phased out, Fort Rinella was stripped of all its machinery and abandoned. The 100- ton guns had never fired a shot in anger.

Up till the mid-1930s Fort Rinella served as a Position Finding Station for nearby Fort Ricasoli. Thereafter the fort was handed over to the Admiralty who surrendered the property to the Government of Malta in 1965.

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Details

Founded: 1878-1886
Category: Castles and fortifications in Malta

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

M H (20 months ago)
Brilliant place. Fascinating demonstrations. Really worth a few hours of a visit
T M (20 months ago)
A very fun and informative visit to one of the two largest cannon in the world. Information on the life in the fort at the time is presented through light hearted, informative reenactments and few short videos. There's also a good museum style display. Great value for your money. They are working on rebuilding the whole works, hopefully they get enough support to complete it.
ana maria caso (20 months ago)
Lovely staff, really nice and helpfull. The tour and the museum were very interesting. Is worth the money and the time.
Nigel Judson (20 months ago)
Highly recommended visiting this site. The staff there are very helpful, friendly and entertaining. The tour and demonstrations give a great insight into what life was like in the fort. You also get the opportunity to for a gun!
Julie Hoskyns (2 years ago)
Excellent value for money, great guided tour by knowledgable and enthusiastic soldiers. Humorous, interesting and WELL worth a visit, actually a MUST!
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