Disappearing Gun on North Head, Devonport

The huge ‘Disappearing Gun’ on Devonport’s Maunganuika North Head reserve was fired on Monday 3rd July, in a very rare event. The firing of the gun was being filmed for the documentary series Heritage Rescue on ChoiceTV.

The British Armstrong 8 Inch Mark VII cannon was was put in place on top of North Head in the late 1800s in anticipation of a possible Russian navy attack.

The “disappearing gun” nickname was so given because the battery gun is designed to retract into the ground after firing in an attempt to conceal its location.

The North Head cannon has only ever been fired a few times – firstly during testing following its original installation, then once or twice for ceremonial occasions in the 20th Century, and most recently in 2011 when the All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup.

Series presenter and researcher Brigid Gallagher pressed the detonator, which funnily enough has seen more action than the gun itself, having been used in the original Suez Canal project.

Though the blast was loud enough, with those spectators without ear muffs holding their fingers to their ears, it only used 10 per cent of the black powder used in 1915, when the exact same model gun that sits on nearby Mt Victoria shattered windows in a ceremonial firing.