The People of Gibraltar
1979 - Hounds are Home - Numerous Insider Stories

Joseph and Emmanuel Gaggero - Marielu and Sir George Gaggero
Ida Marfé and Dr J .A. Patron - Francis and Elisa Francia 
Mabel Andrews-Speed and the Hon. Arthur Carrara - Master Frank Imossi 
Jerome Saccone and John Mackintosh - Jaime Russo and J. Bensusan
Mrs John Gaggero and Leslie Cardona



Point-to-Point  ( 1920s – Lionel Edwards )

When I wrote my article on the Royal Calpe Hunt (see LINK) I would have had to pay more than a hundred quid to buy Gordon Fergusson’s book Hounds are Home. When it went down in price recently and I got myself a copy I realised that had I bought it then I would never have bothered to write the article. 

364 pages long together with probably more than a hundred photographs and illustrations Fergusson’s book is the definitive history of the well known hunt. And it is more than that. I have never hunted foxes – or anything else for that matter - and would not be able to tell the difference between a No 1 Whipper In and an earth-stopper. My main interest in writing about the Hunt lies elsewhere. I am fascinated by the fact that for nearly 125 years one of the most romantic - and definitely most enjoyed and written about institutions that Gibraltar has ever produced - actually had very little impact on the civilian population of the Rock.


When this sketch was drawn the population of Gibraltar consisted of about 18 000 people – the vast majority of Genoese and Spanish descent – The picture shows around 35 individuals in Main Street on a Hunting Morning yet I can only identify about five people who could be classified as typically Gibraltarian       ( 1876 -  Lt J. Marshman )


The Hunt was the product of the British military mind as interpreted by the philosophy of the English public school system - a way of viewing the world within the context of an all encompassing and all powerful British imperialism during the Victorian era and beyond – a world in which on the whole colonial natives were viewed either with indifference or contempt.

It requires careful reading to understand the subtle distinctions brought about by such engrained attitudes. In 1929 the Spaniard Pablo Larios - Master of the Hounds for decades found himself embroiled in a vendetta with the Governor Alexander Godley who was determined to replace him with somebody more suitable - preferably himself. Inevitably caught up in all this was the Deputy Master Arthur Hankey a man chosen by Larios who was fluent in Spanish and a friend of the local Campo farmers. 

Godley dismissed him officially as “a Gibraltar civilian called Hankey” despite the fact that the man had been born in England, educated at Eton, an ex-member of the RNVR and had not set foot on the Rock until he was 30. By the Governor’s reckoning people who could even remotely be classified as “Gibraltarians” were beyond the pale.


“A Gibraltar civilian called Hankey”


Elsewhere, a quick count through the Book’s index reveals well over 650 names – governors, generals, admirals, naval officers of one kind or the other, colonels and majors, captains and lieutenants and  . . . .they all have one thing in common. They are almost universally home-grown Britons. 

In fact the only local people mentioned in the entire book – unless I have managed to miss the odd one – are those found at the beginning of this article, every one of them from among the most well-off 20th century business families on the Rock - all of them given just a cursory and more or less incidental mention.

One of the two exceptions that proved the general  rule – Marielou Gaggero from Gibraltar - to whom Fergusson dedicated his book as “among the youngest living followers of the Royal Calpe Hounds” . . . together with the hounds themselves   ( 1934 )


As regards Governors of Gibraltar, from Colin Campbell in 1809 to Noel Mason-MacFarlane in 1942, just about every one of them is given a sympathetic mention – other then perhaps for Godley who nevertheless gets more than his fair share of space. But then it’s hard for anybody to be over enthusiastic about this rather arrogant man.



Godley looking Godly

Another quick look – this time at his acknowledgements page - reveals an avalanche of nearly seventy British names. Hidden away among them are J. Bensusan – Curator of the Gibraltar Museum - Mrs John Gaggero and Leslie Cardona. 

Throughout the narrative Spaniards occupy both ends of the spectrum – from the many titled men and women of the Larios dynasty to the often anonymous working class men who invariably occupied the most menial posts required by the Hunt – such as for example the earth-stoppers whose job it was to block up the entrances to fox holes which are also known as earths. 

The following quote which Fergusson attributes to one of the Calpe Hunt’s many members shows the underlying disdain for “Johnny foreigner” by at least one British hunter. According to this wit most foxes in Spain died of old age because ‘the earths are many and the earth-stoppers are Spanish.’ And yet local Campo folk such as José Pecino, for example, worked continuously and successfully at the Kennels from 1901 until 1928 as an earth-stopper and from 1928 onwards as Kennel Huntsman right up to 1948. 



The second exception – The Hon Arthur Carrara KC at Guadacorte Farm hopefully suitably attired for the hunt. Bowler hats seem to have been de rigour for civilians and the Navy


But despite my criticism, the book is a must for anybody remotely interested in the social history of Gibraltar. Among the many references to Hunt meetings, point-to-points, horse racing and polo there are also numerous insider stories and titbits. For those who can’t be bothered or can’t afford to buy the book I have copied most of the more interesting illustrations and have posted these separately as shown below.

1979 - Hounds are Home – Part 1   (SEE LINK
1979 - Hounds are Home – Part 2
1979 - Hounds are Home – Part 3
1979 - Hounds are Home – Plates