Fort Manoel was built to a French design in the first half of the 18th Century in the Vauban style. The British took over Fort Manoel and initially used it to hold French prisoners. By the 1860’s the Fort mounted:
- Eleven 24-pdr
- Six 13-inch Mortars
- Two 10-inch guns on traversing carriages, one each on St Anthony’s and St Helen’s Bastion
- Two 8-inch howitzers, again one each on St Anthony’s and St Helen’s Bastion
- Carronades were mounted to cover the flanks
In 1872, St Anthony’s Bastion was modified to mount a single 9-inch 12-ton RML gun in a barbette position. There were ten 64/32-pdr guns mounted in the remainder of the defences. In 1903 the 9-inch RML position on St Anthony’s Bastion was replaced with three 12-pdr Quick Fire Guns to combat Motor Torpedo Boats.
During World War 2 Fort Manoel was a strategic position with the submarine fleet using the Lazzaretto adjacent to the Fort. It received extensive bomb damage, including a direct hit on the dome of the church which has only just been repaired (2018) and to one of the ravelins. There was a dummy battery on the shoreline, a 3.7-inch AA Battery on the glacis and two Bofor’s 40-mm AA gun positions. There is a deep underground engine room built in the counter scarp in the south west, probably from slightly later. There was an underground oil storage tank outside the fort, and a Victorian Magazine built between Fort Manoel and the Lazzaretto which lies to the south.
The UK National Archives
- WO 78/5229
- WO 78/5320