Google+ Badge

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

The Russians Are Coming: Disappearing Gun Still Working Near Dunedin:

If you enquire about Taiaroa Head on the Otago Peninsula near the City of Dunedin - you will likely be referred to the Albatross Colony where at the right time of year you may be able to view some oversized seagulls in the far distance.
However - in the same location at the end of the peninsula at Fort Taiaroa we are lucky to have the only remaining working example of a 6 inch Armstrong Disappearing Gun still mounted in its original gun pit where it was installed back in May 1889.

A fearful but gullible New Zealand public were panicked and lead by the nose into a series of  fortifications and heavy gun emplacements to defend 'crown & country' from the RUSSIANS (Oh No) in 1885.

Even way back then - the British and Russian armies were fighting in Afghanistan to see who could tear-off the biggest lump of tribal wealth and gain control of their territory to exploit it.

Auckland newspapers ran completely farcical tales of a Russian cruiser 'The Kaskowiski' landing a raiding party in the city and seizing gold while taking the Mayor hostage. - Todays propaganda tales are generally more elaborate and more carefully constructed.***

In 2013 the beautifully restored six-inch Armstrong Hydro-pneumatic Gun won a rare international award from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in the United Kingdom.

Fort Taiaroa was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. The following text is the original citation considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

'The Russian war scares of the 1880s caused the New Zealand Government to erect batteries overlooking the harbours of the four main centres. The strategic position at Taiaroa Head gave excellent control over ships approaching Otago Harbour. Local stone was used by prison labour with outstanding skill to form the underground galleries and storage for the gun emplacement. The six-inch Armstrong hydro-pneumatic disappearing gun is still in sound condition except for incomplete breech mechanism. Fort Taiaroa is an excellent example for a military fortification of a bygone era and in its dramatic siting is most worthy of preservation.'

- I was lucky enough to be part of a guided tour there years ago - and excellent it was to pass through the tunnels and underground chambers and to see the gun being raised and lowered - and visit their military exhibits.

***In 1898 the USS Maine blew-up and sank in Havana Harbour and this was blamed on an attack by the Spanish rulers of Cuba and this led to the Spanish-American War. - It is now understood that the Maine sank as the result of  her magazines being ignited by a firedamp gas explosion in her coal bunkers.
August 2nd and 4th, 1964 - America claimed they had been attacked by North Vietnamese "war ships" in the Gulf of Tonkin Incident and commenced air strikes against North Vietnam. It is now accepted that no such attacks occurred.

Disappearing Guns:
Contact Information:
Postal address iconPO Box 492, Dunedin
Telephone number icon64-3-478 0499
Web address icon

I read that they are still open daily:
Visitor Information:
Physical address iconTaiaroa Head, Otago Peninsula, Dunedin, New Zealand
Hours of operation iconDaily 10am-4pm
Adult $12 Child $6 Family $33

Marty K.

Members of the local Antique Arms Association have also dug-up and recovered this seven inch gun - minus its carriage - and are restoring it.

P.S. If you should see The 'Kaskowiski' around - please give me a shout as my favourite Irish single malt is running low.

Marty K.