Under the Knights Hospital, Fort Ricasoli was a key location for the defence of the Grand Harbour, along with Fort Saint Angelo and Fort Elmo. The land front defences of Fort Ricasoli remained a constant cause of concern throughout the 18th Century. The British initially used the Fort as barracks for the Froberg Regiment, but their concern about its’ defensive capability continued. By 1864 the British had a garrison of about 700 men at the fort with a total of 104 guns. This included the following:
Four 110-pdr Armstrong RBL guns
Six 32-pdr SB guns
Twenty-three 68-pdr SB guns
Ten 24-pdr SB guns
One 10-inch (shell) gun
Twenty-four 8-inch SB (shell) guns
Twenty-six 24-pdr carronades
The introduction of Rifled Muzzle Loading guns result in a general upgrade in the artillery which required considerable work on the ramparts and bastions to strengthen them to hold the new heavy guns. The first RML guns installed in the early 1870’s where deployed as follows:
On Number 1 Bation (Point Battery) a single 11-inch RML gun
On Number 2 Bastion two 10-inch RML guns
On Number 5 Bastion two 11-inch RML guns
By 1878 the east face of Fort Ricasoli, facing towards the sea, had a number of RML guns mounted behind iron shields:
On Number 1 Bastion a single 12.5-inch 38 ton RML guns in a casemated position
On Number 2 Bastion two 10-inch 18-ton RML guns in a casemated positions
On number 3 Bastion two 9-inch 12 ton RML guns in casemated positions
On Number 5 Bastion, two 11-inch 25-ton RML guns in a casemated positions
In 1888 a Brennan Torpedo Station was built just below the ramparts of Fort Ricasoli, on the Harbour Side. Much of this site remains, although in a poor state of repair. The observation station for controlling the torpedoes was on the salient of Number 1 Bastion overlooking the harbour entrance. A similar Brennan Torpedo Station was built at about the same time at Fort Tigne.
By 1885 all the old smooth bore guns had been removed. There was a battery of six 80-pdr RML guns in a casemated battery on Number 1 Curtain.
Four 6-inch Q.F. BL Mark VII guns were to be mounted at Fort Ricasoli at the start of the 19th Century. One 6-inch Mark VII guns was placed on Number 2 Bastion, two guns on Number 3 Bastion and one 6-inch gun on the Left Ravelin on the land front.
Two 12-pdr Q.F. guns were added to Number 2 Bastion, on the roof of the 10-inch casemated guns. This work was done at the same time as the 6-inch guns were installed.
Searchlight positions had been installed by 1907 including one on the Number 1 Curtain below the casemated 80-pdr battery.
By 1914 Fort Ricasoli was armed with three 6-inch guns and two 12-pdrs.
In the run up to World War Two, three twin 6-pdr Q.F. guns were installed in Fort Ricasoli. These were located on Bastions 2, 3 and 5 complete with control towers and magazine.
A sound locator position was also built on the land front ramparts, St Dominic’s Demi-Bastion.
UK National Archives records held include the following references: