Harding’s Battery (also known as Harding’s Fort) was named after Sir George Harding, Chief Engineer in 1844. It was originally constructed on the site of the 7th Europa Battery and is one of the southernmost batteries in Gibraltar. It was originally armed with two 24 pounder cannons. These were changed to two 32 pounders in 1863.
In 1868 Colonel W. F. D. Jervois carried out a survey of Gibraltar’s fortifications and batteries. As a result of his report several batteries in Gibraltar were modified or rebuilt to accommodate the heavy Rifle Muzzle Loading (RML) guns. The original intention was to arm Harding’s with a 9 inch RML on a Moncrieff disappearing mounting, but this never occurred. In March 1877 work commenced to reconstruct the battery to take a 12.5 inch RML on a barbette mounting. This was completed in 1878.
The gun emplacement we see today is the one constructed for the RML gun. The protruding iron work is a cast iron cannon barrel that has been sunk into the concrete floor. It acted as a pivot for the gun’s platform.
The chamber underneath was the ammunition magazine. The shells and cartridges were hoisted up through floor openings using two derricks. Then it was placed on a trolley and wheeled on rails to the gun muzzle. The passageway running behind the magazine chambers provided access to the lamps used for lighting. The left-hand chamber was probably used as a store for equipment.
The lifting eyes on the ceiling were used to move the gun's ammunition.
There was another 12.5 inch gun mounted at Europa Hutment Battery along the coast in a westerly direction. Unfortunately there is hardly any trace left of this other battery.
By 1904 RML guns were considered obsolete and they were gradually replaced by breech-loading guns. It is not actually known when this 12.5 inch gun was dismantled, but the original barrel lies in the bottom of the sea directly below the battery. During World War II a 40 mm Bofor anti-aircraft gun was mounted on the battery. The site was covered with earth and rubble. The emplacement was exposed during beautification works at Europa Point in 2011.
The 12.5 inch barrel currently on site was transported from the Dockyard South Gate, having laid there for many years. It had originally been mounted at Alexandra Battery. The carriage and platform on display were manufactured in 2013 and the whole assembly was finally mounted in June of that year.