Tucked away on the North coast of Malta, just a 20 minute bus ride from Valletta, is Fort Rinella. On an island jam packed with places of significant military history Fort Rinella stands out as a jewel in the crown if for no other reason than it houses one of the only two remaining 100-Ton Rifled Muzzle Loading (RML) guns left in existence.
Strictly speaking Fort Rinella isn’t a fort at all, it’s a battery. It was completed in 1886 together with Fort Cambridge to house one of the 2 Armstrong 100-Ton RML guns allocated to Malta. The batteries were built West and East of Valletta with the particular aim of defending the seas around Valetta and the harbour entrance.
The Armstrong 100-Ton RML Gun
The Armstrong 100-Ton Rifled Muzzle Loading (RML) gun at Fort Rinella is unique as being the only wholly original gun of its type to survive in its original battery. There is one other such gun in existence on Gibraltar in the Napier of Magdala Battery, however this gun was moved from the Victoria Battery when the original gun failed due to a double loading incident.
Quite uniquely Fort Rinella has its own garrison, led by Stephan (the Fort’s manager) and and Gregory. Throughout the day the garrison carry out a range of demonstrations including guard duty, a signalling demonstration, bayonet drill and rifle drill. For payment of a small fee visitors can experience what it is like to fire a vintage rifle (a Martini Henry on the day Dee and I visited) and a cannon.
Available in the fort shop is an excellent 40 page guide book available for a very modest é6.99 (price correct as of September 2017). The book includes full colour photographs of the fort today, black and white period photographs, maps, cutaway diagrams and an excellent informative text.
Also available is a very well produced DVD.
The fort does of course have its own website http://www.fortrinella.com/
I visited the Fort with my lady Dee, we stayed for a little over 4 hours before another engagement drew us back to Valetta. We could have easily stayed longer had time allowed. During our visit we were both absolutely absorbed thanks to the efforts of Stephan and his ‘garrison’ who brought the fort to life with their demonstrations. I can thoroughly recommend a visit to the fort for families as well as military enthusiasts, the former are well catered for thanks to the efforts of the garrison who really do make history fun and interesting.
Our thanks to Stephan and Gregory for their hospitality.