Mt Victoria is the highest of Devonport's volcanic cones at 87m and was selected for the Observation and Control Post for local coastal defences.
In 1885 four 64 pounder muzzle loading guns from HMS Nelson were emplaced on a terrace on the northern face of Mount Victoria, Takarunga. Railway lines were used to bring the guns up the hill, which was successful in every case but one, which saw one of these 3 tonne guns hurtling back down.
In 1898 it was decided to place an 8" Armstrong Elswick rifled, breach loading, disappearing gun on a hydraulic-pneumatic disappearing carriage [8"BLHP]. The barrel weighs 13 tonne and is mounted on a 26 tonne carriage. A steam hauler was used to pull the gun up Mt Victoria, and the furrow of the track is still visible. It used a charge of 110lbs of black powder to fire a 210lb shell up to five miles. It was fired only once and cracked many windows, causing local residents to complain.
Fort Victoria was established at the time of the installation of the 8"BLHP gun and comprised a store, shelter and observation post. It was linked to other coastal fortifications by telephone.
The disappearing guns were made redundant in 1922. The gun is one of a few BLHP guns left in New Zealand on its original site. The Fort is now administered by the Fort Victoria Trust.
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