As you are driven up the Rock the Gibraltar Rock Tours take you to the highest point on which O’Hara’s Battery is located. This commanding military location gave the British that conquered the Rock in 1704 a unique vantage point over the entrance to Mediterranean.
It was named after former governor General Charles O’Hara, who believed that an original tower would be able to spy on the Spanish fort of Cadiz. Of course this was achieved as it was nearly 200km away which led to it being called O’Hara’s Folly. Historical reports suggest O’Hara was an eccentric man who had a number of mistresses and a number of children with them, leading him to be called the Old Cock on the Rock! Interestingly, he was finally replaced by Prince Edward, who would go on to father Queen Victoria.
Nearly a century later O’Hara’s Battery was built on the same site. At first it was equipped with a 6-inch gun before a 9.2 inch Mark X BL gun was installed there in 1901. With a range of 16 miles it could have reached Africa if needed, as this was only 14 miles away. Used throughout both World Wars, it was fired for the last time in 1976. It was finally preserved for tourism as a reminder of when Gibraltar was a key military outpost during the British empire.
O’Hara’s Battery was refurbished in 2009 by local soldiers, leading to the area being fully opened for the public in May 2010. Further work by the 10 Signal Regiment in September 2012 led to it being even more presentable. The 9.2 inch gun, magazine, engine room and second gun barrel are all now listed with the Gibraltar Heritage Trust for their protection and maintenance.
The control room, engine room and observation post can now be seen by visitors who will be able to experience this formidable piece of military machinery that was used for nearly a century. The ample detail of the restoration process make it one of the best things to do in Gibraltar during a visit, especially for those interested in the way the Rock was defended.
Breathtaking views of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic make this a wonderful location from which to sample both history and scenery. From there it is also easy to see migrating birds of all shapes and sizes as they criss-cross the Straits of Gibraltar.