Overlooking the scenic Rosia Bay where Nelson was dragged ashore after his famous victory in the Battle of Trafalgar against Spain is the 100 Ton Gun. This is one of the key stops of the Gibraltar Rock Tours, and one of the main things to do in Gibraltar as the only other surviving replica is in Malta, a sister colony since 1870.
One of only two in the world, the gun was installed in the 19th Century but never used in wartime. Nicknamed ‘Rockbuster’, it was mounted on 23 July 1883 after experts saw the need for a heavy RML (Rifle Muzzle Loading) battery in the area. Its 17.72inch (450mm) tube and rigid mount needed 35 men to operate it, firing one missile every six minutes.
There was another similar gun at Victoria Battery – where the Fire Station is now – and some of that emplacement still remains today. But the Nelson’s Anchorage specimen is in particularly good condition, with a lot of detail along its 35ft (11m) length. One can only imagine that each shot took a quarter ton of gunpowder to launch, and its 1.75 metre recoil meant users had to be well clear from the back of the gun during firing.
As one of 15 guns made by the Elswick Ordnance Company owned by Armstrong Whitworth, it was in fact rejected by the Royal Navy as it was too heavy and costly. Its range was just 5,995m but it could crack open 394 of steel like a nut, depending if they were armour-piercing, high explosive or shrapnel shells, all weighing 2,000 pounds and having a diameter of 17.7inches (450m). The Napier of Magdala Battery where the gun was installed, was constructed from 1878 to 1884 on the south-western cliffs of the Rock, it is one of the favourite Gibraltar attractions by military enthusiasts and tourists alike.
The 100-ton gun [got a four-star rating on a well-known travel app- expedia link?] is a staple of the private tours Gibraltar has to offer, bringing to bear the power of a British empire at the height of its strength. Its strategic placing overlooking the Straits of Gibraltar gives it an impression of bygone days when Gibraltar was a garrison where the surviving civilian population made it their home.