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Artillery pieces celebrate Royal Engineers work in Northern Defences

Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Joseph Garcia, has presented the Royal Engineers with two artillery pieces to mark the work they have undertaken at the Northern Defences. And their clean-up work continues tomorrow at the King Line – the large external area above the King’s Lines fuel depot and in front of the King’s Galleries.

The Royal Engineers continued to have a very close relationship with Gibraltar which goes back  hundreds of years. For some time now they have been assisting with the clearing and the improvement of the site.

Dr Garcia explained that so far the Royal Engineers had mostly been involved in the clearing of vegetation, rubbish and rubble that had accumulated over the years.

“They come to Gibraltar at regular intervals and then assist with the project during their visit. The Government is very grateful for this as it serves to further cement the long and historic relationship between the Royal Engineers and the people of Gibraltar,” he said.

The artillery pieces presented on Friday were both found at the Northern Defences during the restoration works.

The Government, he said, found it fit to present them to the Royal Engineers in recognition of the excellent work they continue to undertake at the Northern Defences.

The pieces were presented by Dr Garcia on site to Lt Col Charlie Batty, who is the Chief Instructor of REWW, in the presence of Lt Col Lumley and Project Manager Carl Viagas. The mortar fragment will be delivered to the Royal Engineers Museum in Chatham and the cannon shot will be delivered to Lt Col Roger Morton, who was responsible for promoting the presence of the Royal Engineers at the Northern Defences and who has recently retired.

Dr Garcia spoke of how the Northern Defences had been significantly improved and regular tours of the site now take place.

“Of course, there is still a lot to be done to restore the Northern Defences to world-class standards and the Royal Engineers will play a part in this. The Northern Defences have significant heritage value, representing a thousand years of military history, and thus hold massive potential as an educational site, a tourist attraction and a leisure area,” he said.

Dr Garcia spoke of several phases of the project which have been completed with the main works being the removal of over 500 tonnes of rubble.

“The logistics of the area made this quite a challenge as everything had to be removed by hand, bucket and wheelbarrow. A considerable part of the area has already been transformed.”

Dr Garcia confirmed the Government was in discussions with a potential operator following on from the Expressions of Interest process that was advertised during its first term of office.

“This is an ambitious project and it will take time to come to fruition, but it is unquestionable that the improvements are already visible and real,” he added.