The People of Gibraltar
1747 - James Gabriel Montresor - Chief Engineer

James Gabriel Montresor, third of Gibraltar's chief military engineers, and a man with a difficult surname. He is also referred to here and there as  Montressor or even Montresure. To his friends on the Rock and elsewhere he was invariably referred to as 'Jas'.

Rather appropriately given his subsequent history, Jas was born in 1704 - the year in which Anglo-Dutch forces captured Gibraltar. His family were of Huguenot origin. He joined the Royal Artillery as a young man and is reputed to have been present in Gibraltar during the 1727 13th Siege of Gibraltar (see LINK)  - although others suggest he was in Minorca at the time. He eventually became a bombardier and was commissioned as engineer in 1731. 

His connections with the Rock were both persistent and strong. In 1735 he married the daughter of Robert Haswell, the Master Attendant of the Gibraltar Dockyard, and in 1747, while holding a commission in the 14th Regiment of Foot he took over from Colonel William Skinner (see LINK) as Chief Engineer of Gibraltar. His salary was 20s a day.

James Gabriel Montresor ( 1750 - Unknown )

During his long posting in Gibraltar he was also known as a leading light in the Masonic community both on the Rock and in the Campo area and is reputed to have eventually become Masonic Provincial Grand Master for the whole of Andalucía. He returned to England in 1754. He died in Kent aged 72.

He also seems to have been responsible for a heavy program of construction during which he may have designed some of the finest military buildings on the Rock, a few of which are still standing today. Some of his well drawn plans can still be seen in the following collections;

The War Office : 
1. Description and map of Gibraltar, coast of Spain and Barbary, 1748 ; 
2. Particular survey of the City of Gibraltar, showing government property, 1753. 
3. Twenty-six plans of various parts of the works of defence, with sections of the fortress of Gibraltar, and of the barracks and also of the Spanish lines and forts, dating from 1747 to 1752.

The British Museum : 
1. Plan of the city and peninsula of Gibraltar with the Spanish lines, in five sheets, 1742 
2. Plan of the isthmus, city, and fortifications of Gibraltar, with elevation and sections of the principal public buildings, profiles through the two extremities of the rock and fort built by the Spaniards, with several additional designs for better defending and securing the place, eight sheets, 1753. 

Digital copies of some but by no means all of the plans found in the British Museum are shown below.


A comparison between Montresor's plan - 1751 top - and that of his predecessor, Colonel William Skinner, which is dated 1740


The Rock from the South


Plan for what Montresor called the Soldiers' Barracks which later came to be known as South Barracks. The 1870s photograph (see LINK) suggests that it was built almost exactly to plan and that it remained more or less unaltered right up to the present


Design for Officer's Pavilions on either side of the main South Barracks Building


The 'old' Naval Hospital 


Naval Hospital in the mid 19th century. It was completely reconstructed in 1905


Landport Gate - The middle section is hard to make out but the overall design of the gate is still the same at the time of writing  (See LINK


Landport Gate, moat and northern defences ( 1870s - G.W.Wilson ) (See LINK)


South Bastion and a cross section through South Port Gate as it would appear looked at from the west. Charles V coat of arms seem to have been in the inner section  (See LINK


Section of Charles V Wall and South Port Gate looked at from the front


Similar view of South Port Gates from a drawing by Colonel William Skinner ( 1740 )


Unknown Building near South Port Gates


Powder Magazine by the New Mole (See LINK


House fort the 'Agents' - Unknown location


Main Guard - unknown location - but possibly in the Parade - later known as Commercial Square



Town Range Barracks with Pavilions for Officers


Town Range Barracks in the 1950s


White Cloisters, formerly the convent of Nuestra Señora de la Merced -  Converted into stores and apartments for Naval Officers and more or less destroyed during the Great Siege in the late 18th century (See LINK


Waterport - (See LINK) one of these buildings was probably the Pratik ( Practique) House



Hospital for soldiers - unknown location



Fortress of Santa Barbara on the eastern side of the Spanish Lines - demolished in 1810


Fortress of San Felipe on the western side of the Spanish Lines - demolished in 1810


Montresor's complete map and plan ( with acknowledgements to Tito Vallejo )

For a detailed view of  Montresor's Survey of the Established Barracks for Soldiers at Gibraltar - (See LINK)