The Royal Engineers have returned to Gibraltar and are assisting with the continuing development of the works at the Northern Defences.
This system of tunnels and fortifications was carved into the face of the Rock by their predecessors hundreds of years ago.
“As things have slowly come back to normal, I cannot help but feel a great sense of pride welcoming the Royal Engineers to our shores. The teams deployed have focused on clearing up sections at the Northern Defences. This adds huge value and complements the works already being carried out by the Government. Their efforts are invaluable as each member will push to the limits whilst on site, from the more experienced troop leaders, to younger students. The Government’s representative driving this project, Mr Carl Viagas, tells me how he is always fascinated by their tenacity, fitness and good humour throughout the exercise,” explained the Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia.
This year’s exercise focused on the northern end of Queens Lines where spoils from the recently cleared Amphitheatre Gallery were removed. The event also included a tour by Carl Viagas of most of the Northern Defences so that those present could better understand and appreciate the complex nature and value of the site.
The Deputy Chief Minister highlighted that it is no longer only visiting Royal Engineer students who have been able to assist and learn about the Defences. The site has also become a beacon for learning about our past. Whereas Government has assisted with tours and dedicated site visits, this year has seen some schools include the Northern Defences as part of their local history curriculum for the first time.
The Deputy Chief Minster stated: “As a historian, it is deeply rewarding to lead on a project which not only has tremendous economic potential, but is now yielding such fruits for our younger generations. We have had the College of Further Education who used the Northern Defences for their Travel and Tourism AS level Module as they were unable to travel abroad due to the pandemic. The creativity and initiative shown by the course directors to arrange this in order to meet the demands of the curriculum is truly inspiring and speaks volumes about our educators. I look forward to meeting the group soon when circumstances allow.”
Bishop Fitzgerald School also visited the Northern Defences recently to learn and place into context the events surrounding the Great Siege. This would have been virtually impossible on this scale ten years ago without the investment and the work of many years. The policy objective remains to continue this progress in a slow and gradual manner going forward.
“A number of leisure activities are now being considered for sections of the site in a way which will blend well with the continuing historical and heritage advances in the area. This will be an added feature that will provide another dimension to such a unique site,” explained Project Director Carl Viagas.