The People of Gibraltar
2017 - The Other Gates of Gibraltar - Are they really Gates?

I will try my best, but I am probably laying a huge minefield of misinformation in attempting to identify and place these “other gates” of my home town. In some cases I can hardly tell if they can in fact be called “Town Gates” in the true sense of the word. I can of course offer a few excuse - I have never personally been through any of them, they rarely appear on maps, and as a consequence seem to be of indifferent historical importance. But I’ll give it a try by working my way through them.


Boyd’s Gate - Montagu Gate
Two names but both refer to the same gate. This one must have been constructed after the Great Siege given the date that appears on the keystone of its arch. It cuts into Montagu Curtain - a massive bit of fortification if ever there was one and can be found east side of Fish Market Road.


Boyd’s Gate showing date on keystone - On the underside of the stone Robert Boyd, three-times Governor of Gibraltar is given a mention - His last stint from 1790 to 1794


Boyd’s Gate (Unknown artist)

Together with Montagu Curtain, Boyd´s Gate is included as a “Listed Structure” in a 1989 schedule produced by the Gibraltar Government. According to local historian Tito Vallejo, the other side of the Gate originally faced the sea and was used by the Royal Navy to transport supplies to its old nearby Victualling Yard near the Casemates.

It confirms that the gate must have been constructed before 1804 which is when Montagu Counterguard was built. There is also some evidence that there was a much older passageway through Montagu Curtain before the construction of Montagu Counterguard.


From a crop of an early 18th century survey plan   (1750 - James Gabriel Montressor ) (See LINK)

Devil’s Bellows Gate
Although rarely thought of as a “Gate” the Devil Bellows (see LINK) is acknowledged by Gibraltar’s Heritage Trust as a gateway at the end of Windmill Hill Road leading into and out of Windmill Hill itself.


From a Gibraltar Government pamphlet   (2014)


Devil’s Bellows Gateway

The earliest mention I can find of this gate is that offered by Dr. Hennen (see LINK) who was the medical superintendent of the Garrison from 1808 to 1828. 
What is called the Devil's Bellows on this hill, is a striking illustration of the effects of long drawn passages, or funnel-shaped chasms, in producing partial currents of wind . . 

Jews Gate
This must refer to a possible 18th or 19th century entrance to Windmill Hill Cemetery - also conveniently known as Jews Gate Cemetery. It was in constant use from the early 18th century right up until the 1860s. The entire cemetery was designated a Category A listed building in 1989. 


Although not too helpful in identifying the gate the top caption on this early 19th century sketch reads as follows - “From Jewish burial ground, back of Commissioners Garden, looking over Gibraltar”     (1820 - Henry Sandham)  (See LINK)

Hole in the Wall Gate
Whether this rather absurdly named structure was ever a gate - as against a breach - I have no idea but it does crop up now and again in the literature. For example John Drinkwater (see LINK) writing about Garrison orders during the Great Siege of Gibraltar of 1779 - 1783:
. . . the 58th regiment, in front of their encampment, detaching a flank company through the hole in the wall upon Windmill-hill, to reinforce Europa advance guard.
Another by E.F.Kelaart in his 1846 “Flora Calpense” : (see  LINK)
During my absence, Miss Mann . . . collected for me several specimens near hole in the wall above the Mediterranean steps, at an elevation of about 1400 ft.
It was also listed in a 1989 schedule - and again in 2014 - of listed buildings and structures produced by the Gibraltar Government.

Finally this is how a 2015 booklet Gibraltar Neanderthal Caves and Environments - World Heritage Site Nomination describes the present day area known as Hole in the Wall:
The area was once open, garigue habitat with low-growing grasses and shrubs that suited many native species of plants and was a favourite feeding area for the Barbary Partridge and Blue Rock Thrush.  It contained some alien species that included the Prickly Pear Opuntia ficus-indica.  In the last decade, for reasons as yet unknown, this species of cactus has become a serious invasive that has smothered all but the resistant Dwarf Fan Palm Chaemerops humilis, which still manages to grow through this mass.
This area also contains a rock quarry that is used as a refuse dump, which is frequented by the Yellow-legged Gulls and a group of Barbary Macaques. There is also a promontory occasionally used by the Clay Pigeon Shooting Club that is in an abandoned and disgraceful state, with cartridges strewn all over the site and on the cliffs below.
Despite all that I have yet to come across a photograph of Hole in the Wall Gate - I am even sure whether it is a gate as such. Nor is it of much help to know that Lookout Cave is also known as Hole in the Wall.


Gate of the “Caño de Machín”

By almost universal agreement 18th and 19th century British Gibraltar was a truly dirty place, even by the generally unhygienic standards of the time. That 16th and 17th century Spanish Gibraltar was at very least equally filthy is not recorded anywhere but my guess is that it was. The clue lies in the early 17th century construction known variously as “el Caño de Machín” - sometimes also known as el “Caño de Machina”. 

The Caño was a sewer which ran south-west at the northern end of Calle de Santa Ana - today’s Irish Town - ending up by the Line Wall. It collected surplus rain water from the upper areas of the Rock together with excrement and waste from the town and got rid of it through an iron gate in Bravo’s newly built Line Wall fortifications. Whether the gate was large enough for somebody to move through it is a moot point - although I can’t imagine that it would have been a pleasant experience to do so. The drain also gave its name to one of the Line Wall’s nearby defensive towers which was known as La Torre de Machín.


The street through which the sewer ran probably corresponds with today’s Cooperage Lane. In those days it was appropriately called la Calle del Caño de Machín”. The first Spanish theatre in Gibraltar - el Corral de las Comedias (see LINK) - was once found on the corner between the Calle Santa Ana and the Caño. Going to the theatre in Gibraltar in those days must have involved not just a visual and auditory experience - but an olfactory one as well. 




Plan of the northern area of La turba showing the Caño de Machín   (1627 - Luis Bravo de Acuña - adapted)