The People of Gibraltar
1953 - Ralph Crane - LIFE Magazine

Ralph Crane was a superb photo-journalist. He was born in Halberstadt, Germany and while freelancing in Europe he sent LIFE magazine an image of a Swiss Alpine climber which was included in their 1936 first issue. In 1941 he emigrated to New York and continued contributing and working for LIFE until the magazine stopped publishing in 1972.

Among his thousands of photograph is a large set which he called his 'Gibraltar Essay'. The photos are dated 1953 but I am not sure how long he stayed in Gibraltar or whether all or any of  the photos in this portfolio were actually published by his magazine.


Ralph Crane

Whatever the case they offer a peak into what Gibraltar looked like in the early 1950s as viewed through the eyes of a superb photographer. The following is a selection of some of his work. Some have been converted from colour to black and white. A few have been cropped.


The view from a liner - the cranes on the mole were know colloquially as maquinas de carbon as they were used for coaling purposes


Checking lottery ticket numbers  - The ironic local patois - or Llanito  (see LINK) for winning was 'the lottery touched me in the Hammer' - this being a direct translation of the Spanish - Me tocó la lotería en el Martillo. This  later was the colloquial name for Mackintosh Square, (see LINK)  the place where the numbers were read out.



Main Street - US Navy in town    (See LINK


The Trocadero Bar - used by sailors of all nationalities. It was quite close to my own house in Main Street. 



The Royal Hotel Bar - another popular watering hole for sailors


The Governor's House - The Convent



Inside the Convent


Narrow lanes in town


The Moorsh Castle (see LINK) and the older part of the town  - The pink, half-hidden building on the bottom, extreme left was bougth by my great grandfather in the mid 19th century and still belongs to the family


The fair at Los Glacis just below the Galleries (See LINK)  



The Fair


The Fair at night


Catalan Bay (See LINK



Catlan Bay Church


The Water Catchments



Sandy Bay (See LINK)



Harbour Bumboats



The upper Rock


The ape's den


A view of the Neutral Ground and the Spanish town of La Linea


The South Mole  (See LINK


Alameda Gardens (See LINK


The airport runway



The Frontier - Spanish workers entering Gibraltar


One of three Gibraltar dry docks


Warship in the harbour - the wooden fenders below the mole were known locally as barcasas - when the ships were away they were used as perfect fishing platforms


When Gibraltarians returned home after World War II the housing situation was dire. The authorities build a housing estate in Red Sands known locally as lo Humfrie - Humphreys estate - It's shown here on the right. Meanwhile people were forced to live in temporary accomodation such as the Nissen huts shown on the left.


The view from a beach in La Linea, Gibraltar's sister town in Spain


Gibraltar from the Hotel Reina Cristina in Algeciras. It was a popular place for well off Gibraltarians to go to for a meal or a drink


The coastal road to from Spain. The sign for the Spanish town of La linea is decorated with the emblem of the fascist Falange party  - or to give it its cumbersome proper name - La Falange Española de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista  (See LINK