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Jervois Report

Colonel Jervois Report of 1866

In 1858, the French launched their first ironclad, La Glorie this rekindled a fear in the British that they would loose their naval supremacy. In the following years the French Army was successful in Italy and the British grew suspicious of Napoleon IIIís ambitions. During the same period new powerful rifled guns were being developed in a gun-versus-armour race. In Britain the coastal areas were being defended by new fortifications and Colonel Jervois was one of the responsible for the building of Fortifications around the British Coast. In 1866, Colonel Jervois was sent over to Malta and produced a report to establish a scheme for the protection of the dockyard and the harbours.  His Report was entitled ďMemorandum with reference to the improvements to the defences of Malta and Gibraltar, rendered necessary by the introduction of Iron Plated Ships and powerful rifled gunsĒ.

On the recommendations of Colonel Jervoisís Report of 1866, the construction of Sliema Point Battery begun in 1872.  The Main feature of this fortification is that its architecture is very elaborate having features common to Neo-Gothic architecture. As a result the fort did bend well with the surroundings however it was soon phased out and turned into a search light emplacement. Spinola Battery was constructed between Sliema Point Battery and Fort Pembroke to plug the opening in the defences of the area.  An elongated battery known as Garden Battery sealed the gap Between Cambridge Battery and Fort Tigne.

Various forts were being built on the South East Coast of Malta as proposed by Colonel Jervois. The coastline south of Fort Ricasoli had to be defended and in 1872 the construction of Fort St. Rocco begun.  The Fort importance did not dwindle and new guns continued to be installed until the 1950s such guns were installed in en-barbette emplacements.  Fort San Leonardo one of the forts proposed by Jervois in 1866 however it construction begun only in 1875.  It was armed with 4, 25-ton 11-inch Riffle Muzzle Loading Guns, which until recently were mounted in Madliena.

Apart from the Grand Harbour the other strategic harbour is the Marsaxlokk Harbour.  During the Great Siege the Turkish Armada found refuge in this harbour and therefore in the early 17th century the Knights took the task of defending this harbour. St. Lucian Tower was the first work to be constructed. The British in the 1830s retained the Tower and its battery as a military installation.  The British improved the battery in front of the fort by mounting guns on disappearing carriages. However by 1878 its importance dwindled due to the building of new fortifications. Fort Tas-Silg was one of these forts and it was built on the ridge known as Tas-Silg in Marsaxlokk however the fort was not re-armed after 1903 as other forts took the role of this fort.  On the rear of Fort Tas-Silg, St. Paulís Battery was built to defend Xrobb L-Ghagin and St. Thomas Bay from any landing. Very near to St. Paulís Battery on the Delimara Promontory, Wolseley Battery was built its aim was to plug any gap that existed in the defence of the area. Fort Delimara was built on the promontory of Delimara point to protect further Marsaxlokk harbour.  The embrasures of the guns were cut in the cliff face in order to protect further the gun crew.  Fort Benghisa, which was built after 1910 represents the last major coastal, defence fort built by the British following the polygonal fortification.

Further North of Zonqor Battery another battery was built near the site of the Knights Delle Grazie Tower.  The Battery was named after the old Tower. On the other side of Marsascala Zonqor Battery was set up to counter any possibility to landing in Marsascala.

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