Volume 33 of the second series of the obviously quite popular Ladies' Companion and Monthly Magazine includes no less than two articles on Gibraltar. The first is a rather awkwardly titled article called Journeyings in Spain by somebody who calls himself R.T.M. which includes a short section on Gibraltar. The second - Leaves from a Mediterranean Journal is by an equally anonymous 'Naval Chaplain'. The quotes below are taken from both these articles.
The Rock ( 1880s - Unknown )
Journeyings in Spain - by RTM
The Smuggler - Gibraltar is a free port, and is a depot for the commerce of various nations. It is the head quarters of the Spanish smuggler, who, notwithstanding the difficulties and dangers he has to encounter in the pursuit of his calling, carries on a thriving business. There are smugglers here of all grades. I was much amused by one of the inferior class of these worthies, in crossing over in a small steamboat to Algeciras, a Spanish town on the opposite side of the bay.
As soon as the boat shoved off from the mole, the gentleman untied a small bundle, containing a variety of articles, and with great composure began to stow them away upon his person. He first placed about half-a-dozen silk handkerchiefs under his shirt, then put away a dozen or more gloves in the sleeves of his coat, pulled up his trousers, and filled his boots with stockings, and, finally towed away about one hundred cigars in the red sash which he wore around his waist.
On our arrival on the other side, I had the curiosity to watch our smuggler, to see how he would behave on landing. He did not manifest any hurry to get on shore among the first, and, when he landed on the mole lingered about among the officers, speaking familiarly to his acquaintances, and finally sauntered off deliberately, to disgorge his contraband articles in the back room of one of the best shops of the city.
Gibraltar from Rio Miel, Algeciras ( 1890s - Jean Laurent ) (see LINK)
This kind of small scale smuggling continued to be feature of Gibraltar life right up to the end of the 20th century and is frequently mentioned by visitors. However, the usual comments refer to that which took place between Gibraltar and La Línea - Gibraltar's neighbour across the Neutral Ground - and as mentioned by the Naval Chaplain and quoted below. RTM's is a rare reference of this type of smuggling going on between Gibraltar and Algeciras across the Bay and by ferry boat.
The Tourist - Gibraltar is a dull place for a stranger, and after he has visited the fortifications, he will generally be glad to proceed on his journey. But, unfortunately, it is not always in his power to leave when he may desire, as the steamers which run between Cadiz, Gibraltar, and the Mediterranean coast of Spain, to Marseilles, only touch at stated intervals. I had eleven days in prospect before the arrival of the steamer; eleven days of ennui, which I endeavoured to cut short by taking one of those small craft called a felucca, to Malaga.
Fleets of feluccas in the Bay just off Waterport wharf, Gibraltar ( Unknown 1903 )
Algeciras - I also crossed over a second time to Algeciras on the opposite side of the bay, which is an old town containing about sixteen thousand inhabitants. What a contrast there is between this place and Gibraltar! In the latter place we English have brought with us to southern climate the English style of building -small glazed windows, small doors with brass knockers and door plates.
Everything looks “stuffy". While at Algeciras there are large portals, cool court-yards, immense window reaching from the floor to the ceiling, without glazing, or any other contrivance to exclude the air. . . On entering the grand plaza, I found it crowded with people. The church, which occupied one side of the square, was open, and appeared to be filled to overflowing.
Plaza Alta, Algeciras ( 1870s - George W. Wilson ) ( see LINK )
That 'stuffiness' was a common complaint. According to Richard Ford (see LINK) writing a few years earlier, (see LINK) the town was built on the ‘Wapping principle, cribbed and confined, and filled with curtains and carpets, on purpose to breed vermin and fever.’
Leaves from a Mediterranean Journal by a 'Naval Chaplain
The Visitor - Notwithstanding the ever-flowing stream of Passengers to and from India, little is known even by such travellers themselves of Gibraltar, the greatest stronghold in the world. Steamers do indeed call, and hastily take in coals, but the short space of time t us placed at the disposal of the passengers scarcely suffices for more than a hurried visit . . .
The Inhabitants - The most interesting inhabitants of the Rock are the monkeys . . .
Smuggling - Disappointment, however, awaits anyone who expects much from the unclaimed, untilled patch, separating the British and the Spanish possessions. Still, as the neutral ground it has acquired a certain sort of notoriety from its being the scene of many encounters between the contrabandistas (smugglers) and carbineros.
Spanish guards by the ruins of the old Spanish lines at the northern end of the neutral ground between Gibraltar and La Línea ( 1880s - Unknown )
The heavy duties on tobacco and salt when imported to Spain made the evasion a lucrative one when successful. Hence Gibraltar being a free port, frequent were the attempts made by smugglers, who under cover of night, tried to pass from the neutral ground to the main land.
Considerable vigilance on the part of the Spanish authorities was required to keep down this contraband traffic, and the results were, that the contrabandistas and the carbineros frequently came into angry and sanguinary collision. Should the former be in sufficient force they tried to fight their way through; but if inferior in numbers, they invariably made a run for it, and took refuge in the English lines, where they were duly made prisoners, an alternative they gladly accepted as the lesser evil.
Catalan Bay - A more pleasing excursion, though more distant than the last, is a visit to Catalan Bay, with its colony of Genoa boatmen. These latter emigrated from their own country more than 100 years ago, but do not seem to have benefited much by the change of residence, nor to have altered their habits of life.
The only possessions acquired by these adventurers consist of the shores of a small bay on the east side of the Rock, which here rises to a height of 1,400 feet above the level of the sea, and is crowned by a signal station.
'The last excursion' was a walk from the Alameda Gardens to the Neutral Ground which leaves us with the impression that it was not all that easy to get to Catalan Bay. The description is also odd in that no mention is actually made of the village itself. (see LINK)
The National Archives
The Town and the People - Gibraltar possesses no public buildings worthy of further mention, than that the governor's house was a convent, and is still so called: there are several churches, and one of the largest is the cathedral. The streets are, after the fortifications and the Almeda (sic) gardens, the sight best seeing, owing to the numbers and varieties of national costumes, native and foreign, to be met with at every turning. The first impression given by this medley of costumes is suggestive of an International Exhibition, and cannot fail to strike the visitor as not the least of the characteristics of this far-famed and invulnerable spot.
Potted History - The origin of the name Gibraltar is traced to a compound of the word Gibel (mountain), and Tarif (name of the now-ruined castle, which latter is believed to have been called after its builder) . . . (see LINK)
Gibraltar . . . can to be regarded as impregnable. This impression was dissipated by Sir George Rooke in 1702 . . . (see LINK)
The most important work executed since the great siege, was the construction of the galleries, designed and completed by Willis, an Englishman . . . (see LINK)