The People of Gibraltar
1885 - James Joyce - Molly Bloom’s Gibraltar - Part 1
. . . a picture of a woman on the wall in Gibraltar  with that word I couldn’t find anywhere . . the first time I saw the Spanish Cavalry at La Roque it was lovely looking across the bay from Algeciras all the lights of the rock like fireflies or those sham battles on the 15 acres the Black Watch with their kilts in time at the march past the 10th hussars the prince of Wales own or the lancers O the lancers theyre grand . . .
No idea about either the woman or the word but San Roque - wrongly called La Roque is a Spanish town about eight miles from the Gibraltar. After the Anglo-Dutch assault on the Rock in 1704 (see LINK) practically the entire Spanish population left the town. Many of them settled in San Roque hoping for a quick return. It didn’t happen. Its full name is still la Muy noble y más leal ciudad de San Roque, donde reside la de Gibraltar.

When Molly was a young girl it was much visited by people from Gibraltar - both military and civilian. It was a pleasant place to escape to from the claustrophobic conditions on the Rock which was still very much a fortress town.  Ironically San Roque was also the headquarters of the Spanish Military Commander of the Campo de Gibraltar area, hence perhaps the cavalry reference 


San Roque ( Early 1900s – Albert Moulton Foweraker ) (see LINK

Algeciras is another Spanish town. It lies just across the bay from Gibraltar and the views of the Rock from it were and still are a popular subject for both artists and photographers. Electricity arrived in Gibraltar in the very late 19th century but the Rock’s gas-lit streets and houses at the time would have certainly produced a particularly romantic image at night.


“Looking across the Bay from Algeciras all the light of the rock like fireflies”    ( Early 1900s - Albert-Moulton-Foweraker )

As regards those regiments, the Black Watch was stationed in Gibraltar from 1889 to 1893 and the Prince of Wales Own from 1895 to 1896. As far as I know The 10th Hussars were never stationed there but they were involved in the British- Egyptian Campaign of 1882-1889 in which Gibraltarian muleteers from the Rock – Los Carreteros del Rey -also took part. The Hussars may have stopped over on their way there.


A large consignment of mules from Spain for Los Carreteros del Rey  ( Late 19th century – John Charlton ) 
 . . . I want at least two other good chemises  . .  and I don’t know what kind of drawers he likes none at all I think didn’t he say yes and half the girls in Gibraltar never wore them either naked as god made them that Andalucian singing her Manola she didn’t make much secret of what she hadn’t . . .
The drawer-less lady was Spanish, but who were those equally drawer-less free and easy Gibraltarian girls? It would be laughable to think that we are dealing with a sexually liberated society. Most of the local families were of either Spanish or Genoese stock the great majority of them Catholics with traditional – not to say puritanical - moral values especially as regards women. The relationship between the British garrison and the local female talent was never an easy one – nor was that with the Royal Navy – an almost constant presence and from whom the majority of the population usually gave a wide berth. 

In the early 19th century the lower ranks of the army and the navy made constant use of prostitutes and knew where to find them – for a young girl from a local family to consort with either soldier or sailor was asking for trouble. The question is – were Molly’s drawer-less girls prostitutes? Both Molly and I will return to this topic later.
. . . She a rich lady of course she felt honoured H.R.H. he was in Gibraltar the year I was born I bet he found lilies there too where he planted the tree he planted more than that in his time . . .
When the Prince of Wales arrived on the Rock in 1876 he was - according to the Gibraltar Directory of 1939 - “awarded a right royal reception”. Royal visits to Gibraltar were two a penny during the heyday of the British Empire but as far as I can make out none coincided with the year in which Molly is supposed to have been born. Nevertheless Molly’s HRH must be the Prince of Wales. The word “lilies” is a give-away – as Molly herself insists elsewhere it was “that Mrs Langtry the Jersey Lily that the Prince of Wales was in love with . . .” Besides Edward was a notorious philanderer and as Molly so nicely puts it he certainly planted more than just trees in his time.


The Prince of Wales arriving in Gibraltar in 1876


The outline of the Rock specially illuminated during the visit of Prince of Wales   (W. Simpson )
. . . I thought it was going to get like Gibraltar my goodness the heat there before the levanter came as black as night and the glare of the rock standing up in it like a big giant  . . .
The levanter or el levante is the name given to the east wind. The air full of moisture from the Mediterranean suddenly hits the sheer eastern cliffs of the Rock and condenses into a thick cloud that attaches itself tenaciously to the top of the Rock. To the west, the town is trapped under a heavy cloud and the humidity rises exponentially - as do the tempers of everybody who happens to live there. 


El levante over Gibraltar looked at from the east     (1944 – Unknown )
. . . Captain Grove  . . . he was awfully fond of me when he held down the wire with his foot for me to step over at the bullfight at La Línea when that matador Gomez was given the bulls ears . . 
Going to bullfights during the summer months was a must for many of the locals during the late 19th and right up to the middle of the 20th century. (See LINK) They were usually part of the annual ferias not just in La Línea but also in most of the towns in the surrounding Campo area. For Gibraltarians the most popular were those held in Algeciras, San Roque and of course, La Línea. As regards Gomez – I have no idea if he actually existed but during the very early 20th century - the golden age of bullfighting - Belmonte and Joselito were considered to be the best of the best. Joselito’s real name was José Gómez.


The Plaza de Toros de la Línea as I remember it   (Mid 20th century – with thanks to Enrique Alejandro )
. . . Captain Grove . . . he got an opportunity at the band on the Alameda esplanade when I was with father and captain Grove I looked up at the church first and then at the windows then down and our eyes met  . . .
The Alameda esplanade occupied a large flat piece of land just south of the town and near the  Charles V Wall. (See LINK). The governor in the early 19th century General George Don – with a little help from his wife and financial assistance from the locals (see LINK) - converted part of it into what would become one of the most pleasant places in Gibraltar. There were, however, no churches to look up to anywhere nearby.


The Alameda Esplanade from Devils Gap Road  (See LINK)


Alameda Gardens   ( Late 19th c Edward Angelo Goodall )

A bandstand was erected on one of  promenades of the Alameda and it soon became a tradition for bands of whatever regiment happened to be on the Rock at the time to play there in the evenings – something that was enjoyed by both visitors and residents both military or civilian alike.


Military band playing in the Alameda Gardens - none of this exists anymore but the house in which my family once rented a flat and in which I spent my youth was built very close to this site ( Early 20th century ) (See LINK)
. . . their damn guns bursting and booming all over the shop especially the Queens birthday and throwing everything down in all directions if you didn’t open the window . . .
This was yet another important military tradition in which the full pomp and circumstance of the military establishment would be made evident to all and sundry - especially to the nearby Spaniards. 


Celebrating the Queen’s Birthday by firing a lengthy salute from the guns installed inside the Galleries (See LINK)  - An unimpressed Spanish goatherd and a curious police officer look on from  somewhere near the Queen of Spain’s Chair on Sierra Carbonera (See LINK)   (1891 )


King’s Birthday celebrations in North Front  ( Early 20th century )


Saluting Battery in the south to the west of the Alameda Gardens   ( 1844 – J. M. Carter )  (See LINK)
. . . when general Ulysses Grant whoever he was or did supposed to be some great fellow landed off the ship and old Sprague the consul that was there from before the flood dressed up poor man and he in mourning for the son . . .  
It wasn’t only Royalty that made it a habit to visit the rock (see LINK) – American presidents did so too. Ulysses Grant was the first one. He arrived in November 1878 and stayed for a week. The Gibraltar Directory which would never fail to record the movements in and out of the Rock by anybody with even the most modest amount of blue-blood failed to mention the visit. Which is odd as Grant was actually invited to chase foxes in Spain with the Royal Calpe Hunt. (See LINK) It is hard for the uninitiated to understand just how important this institution was to the British during the nineteenth and twentieth century. Some have even suggested that had it not existed, Gibraltar would probably have long ago been handed back to Spain.

“Old Sprague” – Horatio Jones Sprague - was indeed the American consul at the time (see LINK) His father, another Horatio, was appointed consul in 1832. When he died his son Horatio Jones took over. He in turn was succeeded by his youngest son Richard Louis. Richard never married and when he passed away the Sprague consul dynasty in Gibraltar came to an end. All of which is much more succinctly summed up by Molly’s suggestion that they were there from before the flood.

President Ulysses Grant and the American Consul in Gibraltar - Horatio Jones Sprague



1921 - James Joyce - Ulysses and Gibraltar – Introduction (See LINK)
1885 - James Joyce - Molly Bloom’s Gibraltar - Part 2 (See LINK)
1885 - James Joyce - Molly Bloom’s Gibraltar - Part 3 (See LINK)