Unesco is considering whether to declare the world's two surviving Armstrong 100-ton guns, one of which is located at the Rinella Battery, as world heritage monuments, the executive director of Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna, Mario Farrugia, said yesterday.

The other massive gun is at Napier of Magdala Battery in Gibraltar.

Mr Farrugia was addressing a crowd of visitors during Victorian Garrison Day, organised by the foundation, at Fort Rinella. The fort was built in 1884.

An animated tour started at the door of the fort where visitors followed five of the foundations' volunteers, dressed in period uniforms of the Royal Malta Regiment of Militia, as they marched over the bridge.

The crowd walked up a winding path and into the glacis of the fort from where an original eight-inch howitzer of the period was fired twice.

Mr Farrugia, who guided the tour, led the group to the field kitchen where soldiers cooked Victorian era military soup in black, outdoor stoves fired with wood. The public were offered a taste of the soup, hard tack biscuits and tea as used to be served in the fort.

The crowd then followed Mr Farrugia back down the winding path and to the revolving sentry-box, in front of the bridge.

There, Mr Farrugia explained that the path was purposely winding to ensure that the door of the fort, the most vulnerable point, would not be seen by assailants from the top of the pathway.

Men then fired blank shots from little openings in the fort's wall to illustrate how an enemy who would have gotten close to the fort's door would have nowhere to hide.

If the enemy made it over the bridge, soldiers would shoot from small openings in the main door.

The attentive crowd was then led through the fort up to the majestic Armstrong 100-ton gun.

There Mr Farrugia explained how, in the late nineteenth century, news that Italy was having eight Armstrong 100-ton guns built led Britain to strengthen the coastal defences of Malta and Gibraltar.

Four 100-ton gun batteries were provided in the two colonies in an effort to secure the two important naval stations against any possible naval attack.

Authorisation for the two 100-ton gun batteries in Malta was obtained from the War Office on August 28, 1878. The two batteries were named Cambridge and Rinella. The 100-ton gun was delivered to Rinella in 1882 and the Cambridge gun was fixed in place a year later.

In May 1905 the Rinella gun fired its last shot as new technology rendered it obsolete.

Visitors were then guided into the barrack rooms which have now been turned into a museum.

Mr Farrugia argued that it was a shame that from a population of 400,000 citizens the FWA had only 650 members. The foundation is responsible for the restoration and upkeep of 27 historical sites.

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