Spur Battery

Spur Battery
Part of Fortifications of Gibraltar
Upper Rock Nature Reserve, Gibraltar
Spur Battery and Rock of Gibraltar.jpg
Spur Battery in Gibraltar after 1981, tracks for shell trolleys visible
9.2 inch Coastal Defence Gun - geograph.org.uk - 844689.jpg
The 9.2-inch Mark X coastal defence gun at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford after it was transferred from Spur Battery
Spur Battery is located in Gibraltar
Spur Battery
Spur Battery
Coordinates36°07′22″N 5°20′38″W / 36.122713°N 5.343892°W / 36.122713; -5.343892
TypeArtillery Battery
Site information
Site history
Built1902 (1902)
In useDecommissioned; Gun transferred to Imperial War Museum Duxford in 1981 (1981)

Spur Battery is an artillery battery in the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar. It is located in the Upper Battery area of the southern end of the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, just southwest of O'Hara's Battery. A 9.2-inch Mark X breech-loading gun was mounted on the emplacement in 1902, with improvements made to the battery after World War I. In 1981 the 9.2-inch gun at Spur Battery was dismantled and transferred to the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, England, for preservation. The operation was known as Project Vitello.

Early history

Spur Battery is in Gibraltar, the British Overseas Territory at the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula.[1][2] The artillery battery is located near the southern end of the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, in the Upper Battery area, which also includes O'Hara's Battery and Lord Airey's Battery.[3][4] It is positioned at the southern terminus of Spur Battery Road, just southwest of O'Hara's Battery, at an elevation of 1,130 ft above sea level. Its name was based on its location on St. George's Spur.[4][5]

The mounting of 9.2-inch guns on Gibraltar's artillery batteries began in the 1890s. By 1914, Gibraltar boasted fourteen of those guns on twelve batteries. The 9.2-inch Mark X breech-loading gun at Spur Battery was installed in 1902.[4][6] It was used in World War I on 31 December 1915, when German submarines were positioned off the coast of Gibraltar. Three rounds were fired from the gun, with another ten rounds fired from other 9.2-inch guns of the South Fire Command.[4][6] The outcome was recorded in a journal as: "Result of action. One target disappeared, and a large explosion took place at another."[4]

The gun barrel at Spur Battery was upgraded after World War I. In addition, its mount was changed from a Mark V to a Mark VII in 1935. This entailed increasing the armour and modernising the control system, and resulted in improvement of loading, elevation, and traverse.[4][6] The specifications of the weapon included a combined weight for the gun and its mounting of 204 tons, with the weight of the barrel 28 tons. Each shell weighed 380 lbs; individual charges were 109 lbs. The 9.2-inch gun had a muzzle velocity of 2,700 ft/sec and fired 2–3 rounds/minute. The range of the gun was 29,600 yds. This easily covered both the Strait of Gibraltar and the Bay of Gibraltar, the distances across those bodies of water measuring 25,500 yds and 9,000 yds, respectively.[4]

Recent history

In the 1970s, the Royal Gibraltar Regiment fired the coastal defence gun at Spur Battery for the last time.[4][7] The 9.2-inch gun fired 29 rounds at a towed target that day, and made its mark several times.[6] The other guns of the Upper Battery area also fired for the last time then.[4]

In 1981, the gun at Spur Battery on the Upper Rock Nature Reserve was dismantled and transported to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, England for preservation. The operation was entitled Project Vitello,[8][9] and it was undertaken in two phases. The first phase was referred to as Project Vitello 1 and entailed the dismantling of the gun at Spur Battery and its transfer to the Gibraltar dockyard. This was performed in early 1981. The second phase, Project Vitello 2, started in August 1981, when the 9.2-inch gun arrived in Portsmouth. The transfer to Duxford was accomplished in eleven loads. The construction necessary at the museum began in September 1981 and was completed in early 1982. The Royal Engineers were responsible for completing both phases of Project Vitello.[10] The gun was replaced with Exocet guided missile systems.[6] {Dead Link}

Following removal of its 9.2-inch gun, Spur Battery sustained vandalism. The magazine and other chambers of the lower level have been emptied of equipment or sealed off. Not only the gun was removed, but also the gun mount enclosure. Subsequently, the cartridge storage areas are now exposed and have undergone corrosion.[4]



  1. ^ "List of Crown Dependencies & Overseas Territories". fco.gov.uk. Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  2. ^ Roach, John (13 September 2006). "Neandertals' Last Stand Was in Gibraltar, Study Suggests". National Geographic News. National Geographic Society. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  3. ^ "Criminal Offences - Restricted Areas Notices" (PDF). gibraltarlaws.gov.gi. Government of Gibraltar. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 July 2012. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Spur Battery". discovergibraltar.com. DiscoverGibraltar.com (Click Gun Batteries, then Spur Battery). Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  5. ^ "Map of Spur Battery". maps.google.com. Google Maps. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d e Philippart, Frank (2009). "WMF News - Edition 3 of 2009" (PDF). users.telenet.be. WMF News, Simon Stevin Centrum. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  7. ^ "Gibraltar Regiment (1958 - 1999)". royalgibraltarregiment.gi. The Royal Gibraltar Regiment. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  8. ^ "Project Vitello: Disassembly of the Spur Battery on Gibraltar 1980". iwm.org.uk. Imperial War Museums. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  9. ^ "After the Battle Magazine, Issue No. 33". afterthebattle.com. James Teagle & Battle of Britain Intl. Ltd. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  10. ^ "Spur Battery Project Vitello". discovergibraltar.com. DiscoverGibraltar.com (Click Gun Batteries, Spur Battery, then Project Vitello). Archived from the original on 5 September 2013. Retrieved 29 October 2012.

External links

  • Google map of Spur Battery
  • Maps of gun batteries in Gibraltar, including photos of gun from Spur Battery, transferred to Imperial War Museum
  • Maps and photos of batteries
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