The People of Gibraltar

 2022 - An anonymous, undated plan of Gibraltar

The above somewhat naïve looking plan of the Gibraltar showing both eastern and western sides of the Rock, is a bit of an enigma. I have no idea who did it and I am finding it hard to date with any precision – especially as  I am missing the descriptions that might have explained its numbered captions

Nevertheless, I suspect the plan is historically worth a comment or two as it confirms written evidence found elsewhere that I have not as yet been able to find on any other of the literally hundreds of maps of the Rock that I have collected in the past.

The following is an attempt to give suitable descriptions to each of the numbers as well as other interesting but un-numbered objects shown on the plan. I have also divided the plan into four seoerate sections to make them easier to view.

The North-West Section

The Flag
The one depicted on the plan appears to be a British ensign of some sort - although I can’t make out which one. All the early plans, maps, engravings and paintings dated from the early 18th to the 19th century that I have collected over the years, invariably show the Union Jack flying above the old Mole. 

(1762 - The London Magazine)

The medieval looking fort beside the flag seems either anachronistic or misplaced. 
However, it might be a reference to the heavily fortified Spanish Puerta de  Mar as inherited by the Anglo-Dutch forces in 1704. If so it is shown in the wrong place.


7. Identifies what may have been a forerunner of Signal Station Road with a detour to the guard house on the crest of Middle Hill.

8 or 9.(?) The  “Moorish Castle”. Difficult tell why the need for the two caption numbers if this is what they are.. Perhaps one refers to  the Castle’s Tower of Homage, the other to the overall Castle area. The apparently very diminished almost non-existent walls of the precinct of the castle is surprising. They may have been damaged and reduced during the so-called Gunner’s war in 1727 and the Great Siege – 1779 -1783, but not to such an extent.

11. Crest of Middle Hill 

12. A gun was placed on the top of the North Face of the Rock during the Great Siege in 1779. The emplacement became known as Rock Gun Battery although the actual site was and still is usually referred to as “Rock Gun”.

The sketch of a small building rather than that of a gun or cannon - as well as the lack of any road leading up to the battery suggests that the plan might be pre-Great Siege. On the other hand  sketches of guns or the like are also missing in all the other batteries shown on the Plan. The lack of a road leading up to it can also be explained. According to Captain John Drinkwater in his definitive book on the Great Siege:

The artillery were too impatient to have a gun mounted on the summit of the Rock, to wait till a new road was finished: they accordingly determined to drag a twenty-four pounder up the steep craggy face of the Rock and in a few days . . . they were successful to get it to the top.

A counter argument might be that  Green’s Lodge Battery – named after chief military engineer William Green and which was also constructed during the Great Siege and shortly before the setting up of Rock Gun - appears to be missing on the plan.    

(1859 - The Fortifications of Gibraltar – Cropped – Unknown)

22. The fortification to the left of the caption might be North Bastion. 

23. There appears to be too much empty space. One way to explain this is that the 23 on the left is the northern entrance or exit of Landport and the 23 on the right is the southern entrance or exit of the same gate. The middle 23 is simply shows the path through it.
The area to the right of the vertical dotted line right up to or close to the northern section of the town would be Grand Casemates.

24. A guard house?

25.26.27. The historical development from an open beach protected by wooden palisades during the earlier Islamic era, , to the Spanish fortified Puerta de Mar – which the British referred to  as Watergate - to the later construction of Chatham’s Counterguard and the subsequent need to construct several passage ways through the fortification – make the entire area a nightmare to describe succinctly. 

To make matters worse, the British authorities unhelpfully christened these newer gates as Waterport Gates to the eternal confusion of just about everybody as well as making it doubly difficult to determine what 25, 26 and 27 might stand for. The following is just one of several possible interpretations.

25. The first Casemate Gate which was built on the site of the original and first gate which was known as Watergate

26. Could also refer to the original Watergate which would contradict my description of 25. I suspect the author of the map is confusing one of the a Waterport Gates with Watergate.

27. Might represents a tunnel known as Boyd’s Gate that ran through Montagu Bastion from the sea into the Navy Yard on the land side. Boyd’s Gate dates from 1792 replacing a similar tunnel which had been constructed an unknown number of many previously.

28. Possibly the “Sallyport” used by British troops during the sortie that took place during the Great siege. Other mentions of this sallyport place it on the other side of Landport Gate.

29. The Old Mole often referred to as the Devil’s Tongue

30. The tower of the “Moorish Castle” and the ruins of the walls that surrounded the Castle precinct to the west of the Tower. Whatever the date of the plan, this part of it is unconvincing. The wall was indeed seriously  damaged during several 17th century sieges but much more of it was left standing than the small section shown on the plan. 

31. Magazine or gunpowder store ?

32. The dotted line leading to the caption may have identified the Road to the Lines.

33. The Prince’s Lines – a series of defensive batteries first laid out in 1720s

34. Willis’s Battery – another line of batteries named after Captain Willis who distinguished himself during 1704.

35. Originally the Hospital de San Juan de Dios – later the site of the Blue Barracks and later still the civilian hospital

36. The track into town from 23 could very well be Engineer’s Lane. If so the large house labelled 36 might be – or would one day be - the official home of the Chief military Engineer.

37. The White Cloisters building once known as the Monasterio de la Merced. It was converted into a Naval Store in the early 18th century. During the late 19th century Great Siege the Governor George Eliott, ordered its tower to be removed to avoid it being used as a marker by enemy gunners. Apparently this had little effect as the entire town continued to be seriously damaged during heavy enemy bombardment.
If this building is in fact White Cloisters then the plan probably represents the town before the end of the Great Siege.

38. Part of this block of buildings may have been meant to represent the Monasterio de Santa Clara. The British took over the monastery soon after 1704 and converted it into a military prison with a special section reserved for anybody who was insane and considered a public nuisance. It was also later converted into a barracks.

The road shown above White Cloisters and this building is the northern section of Main Street, then known as Waterport Street. The lane that separates the two monasteries - known as “Calle Nueva” to the Spaniards - was renamed as Bedlam’s Court by the British – for understandable reasons. 

39. Possibly another old Spanish Church.

40. Large building on the eastern side of Main Street in front of the parade. It probably represents what was once Gibraltar’s oldest hospital during the Spanish era. It was known as the Hospital de la Misericordia.

50. Possibly the main drinking water fountain which was perhaps moved towards the north western corner of the Parade when Gibraltar’s influential Jewish merchant, Aaron Cardozo built his house on the eastern side of the Parade in 1812 presumably after this plan was created.

51. Ragged Staff jetty

53. Unknown batteery

65.Possibly the old atarazana or galley house building supposedly built in the 14th century by Ferdinand IV and was still standing during the Great Siege. 

67(?) - Probably a slaughterhouse later identified by the British Engineer, Gabriel Montressor in his detailed 1750’s map as being used as a barracks. If so it should have been placed further south close to Zoca Flank and nearer the Parade square

The slaughterhouse which was built before 1704 and later converted by the British into a barracks (1790 - Bulteel Fisher)

69. The Parade – Renamed numerous times over the years. Today it is known as the Piazza although its official name is still John Mackintosh Square. 

Mid-West Section

St Mary the Crowned
Middle left, the building with the tallish tower must be the Catholic Church, later the Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned, but known to the  British during the 18th century and beyond as the Spanish Church. The tower was purposely dismantled during the Great Siege which took place from 1779 to 1783.

13. El Hacho or Signal Hill.  During the late 19th century the method used for signalling made use of masts on to which combinations of black and red leather balls and flags were hung. Canon shots were also fired for more urgent signals.

41. Just below the church of St May the Crowned is the “Convent” and its gardens. It was originally a Spanish monastery the Monasterio de San Francisco, but was perhaps the Governor’s residence by the time this map was created. In reality the Convent is a considerable distance further south from the Church than depicted on the plan  

43. 44. – Almost certainly Town Range Barracks completed in 1744. The Barracks were built on a road that was and still is also known as Town Range 

45. Either a Military storehouse or Engineer’s Barracks also known as St Jago’s Barracks which was originally the site of an old Spanish church - Iglesia de Santiago. The doorway was in situ at the time of writing

46. Southport Gate

47. This looks suspiciously like one of the two pedestrian passageways through Charles V Wall just to the east of Southport Gate. But there earliest of these was created in 1867 which I suspect is far too late for this plan.

48. Steps or ladder to and from Ragged Staff Royal Naval watering mole 

Ragged Staff Jetty from above (1870s)

49. The fortification on the right could be South Bastion.

Trafalgar cemetery on the bottom section with the east wall of South Bastion just beyond the pathway leading to Southport

55. The plan shows two parallel zig-zag walls perhaps intended to represent the “old Moorish Wall” on the left and Charles V Wall on the right. However the “old Moorish” one was inherited in very poor shape by the British and was shown in the 20 th century to have been constructed on the orders of Philip II of Spain. Its name was then altered accordingly to Philip II Wall

76 (?). Unknown

South-West Section

The Vineyard
In 1748 Robert Poole, a writer of theology, visited Gibraltar on his way to the West Indies. Among his diary entries there are references to a place which he called 'the Vineyard.'

After this (a visit to the Naval Hospital situated about a mile out of town beyond the new Mole ) we visited what is here called the Vineyard. It is a pretty large piece of garden, lying upon a descent, in the occupation of one who rents it, maintain himself and his family by the profit thereof. . . .

The lessee in question was a Gibraltarian of Genoese origin called George Picardo and the man he rented it from was Lieutenant-General William Hargrave, one of a long-line of rather unscrupulous Governors of the Rock.
The non-captioned vineyard is shown as a square area with trees on the extreme left of the plan.

The Vineyard (1743 - John Hardesty Plan of Gibraltar – Cropped)

What appears to be a walled garden just above 61. is almost certainly the Vineyard. It was touted  to be one of the most pleasant place on the Rock

Gibbet or gallows
The unlabelled object above 54 is a gibbet. The literature confirms that hangings in Gibraltar  took place in the red sands area to the south of the town and Charles V Wall and that – although not shown by the map maker, corpses were allowed to be exhibited on the gibbet for some time as a warning to others. 

19. Europa Road or precursor shown as it passes through the Devil’s Gorge on its way to Europa Pass Gate. Appears on both the east and west plans

36. South Barracks, It was completed  in 1732, designed by the British engineer, Gabriel Montressor. If this is so it would place 1732 as a lower limit for dating the map.

37. Two officers’ Pavilions in front of South Barracks

Europa Pass (Mid-19th century J.M. Carter)

The large object shown on the plan to the right side of what seems to represent the Devil's Gorge, might be an exaggerated Devil’s Tooth, a rocky outcrop at the entrance of the gorge

52. Underground aqueduct possibly of Islamic origin, improved upon during the Spanish era

View of South Barracks from the Vineyard (1844 – George Lothian Hall)

53. Unknown Battery 

54. Main water source for the town
This is the only plan I have come across that suggests that the main water supply for the town was extracted using an animal driven water wheel known as a Noria.

58. Entranced to the "English Fortress" constructed by the British to replace the Islamic and later Spanish Torre del Tuerto fortress which was seriously damaged  in 1704 during the Anglo-Dutch assault

59. The "English Fortress" 

60. An odd shaped structure within the New Mole area which I cannot identify. .

61. Difficult to decide but the two buildings are probably meant to represent the old Navy Hospital, later renamed  the Naval Hospital. It was built on the site of an old Spanish hermitage - la Ermita de los Remedios - which was demolished in 1733, and was completed in 1741. Before 1704, the hermitage  had also given its name to small cove which it overlooked - la Ensenada de los Remedios which is today known as Camp Bay today. (But see 66 below)

Many years later several Spanish and French maps were still incorrectly naming the hospital as the Hospital de los Remedios - a name which the British naval establishment would surely never have countenanced.

62. Looks like Bleak House which was completed in 1817 but is almost certainly not so given that it had no tower and was in any case completed in 1817 while it would appear that the presence of the Spanish Lines in the plan suggests that it was created earlier than 1810.
The building is probably meant to represent the Chapel of  Our Lady of Europa - albeit not at all  convincingly 

Bleak House (Late 19th century – J.H. Mann)

63. English Fortress landing area

66. Possibly the Spanish Ermita de los Remedios which overlooked the cove that would become Rosia Bay - which is not captioned.  Nor is Rosia Bay presumably because it was at the time of little importance as the dockyard, water tanks and other harbour features were not built until the early 19th century. If 66 is the Ermita de los Remedios then 61. cannot be the Naval Hospital and the plan would be earlier than 1733. (See 61.above)

North-East Section

St Roche
The Spanish town of San Roque. Many of the residents of Gibraltar who left their homes after the takeover of the town by Anglo-Dutch forces in 1704 took up what they thought would be temporary residence in this town. They have so far been unable to return. Today it is known officially in Spain as as “La Muy noble y más leal ciudad de San Roque donde reside la de Gibraltar”.

1. Spanish fortifications on the isthmus known as La Línea de la Contravalación and to the British as the Spanish Lines . Designed by the Engineer Jorge Próspero de Verboom it was built during the mid-1730s and finished in 1735. On the 14th February 1810 they were dismantled by the British during the Peninsular War with the reluctant consent of the Spanish authorities. 1810 might therefore appear to be the oldest possible date for this plan.

2. Possibly la Torre del Molino A windmill of Spanish origin. If it is, then the date of the plan must be dragged back to 1781 as this medieval tower was destroyed in a sortie carried out by the British on that year during the Great Siege.

3. Difficult to decide what these two twin buildings given the same caption number might refer to. During the very early 19th century the local slaughterhouse previously located close to the Line Wall to the north of the Parade – now La Piazza – and in what would later be known as Zoca Flank was transferred to newly built premises in the eastern coast of the Isthmus close to the rock face of the North Front. Whether this was done before or after the Spanish line fortifications were destroyed in 1810 is hard to tell.

4. 5. (?) I also find it hard to tell whether one of the numbers is indeed a 4 or not. 
Nevertheless, the tower is the 17th century Torre del Diablo known to the British as the Devil’s Tower. It was destroyed during World War two for somewhat specious reasons. 
The cave or entrance might just be Devil’s Tower Cave where the skull of a Neanderthal child was discovered in the early 20th century. 

6. Catalan Bay beach or la Caleta. The lack of any village suggests that the map may have been created in the early 18th century when very few people lived there permanently

7.  Appears to depict a very steep pathway from the cliffs behind Catalan Bay leading up to a military outpost at the top of Middle Hill. I have not seen this feature depicted on any other map. 
Perhaps it is meant to represent at least part of the track used by the Gibraltarian goatherd Simon Susarte, who led a joint Franco-Spanish contingent up the supposedly unclimbable east face of the Rock in 1705 during the 12th Siege of Gibraltar. The plan was to attack Anglo-Dutch forces on the western side. It did not succeed.

According to most other sources the pathway appears to have cut across the cliff face towards the south ending up somewhere near a large grove of carob trees where they spent the night near St. Michael’s Cave before their ill-fated attempt to retake Gibraltar. Hence the name often given to this area as “El Salto del Algarrobo” 
On the western side map, 7 identifies what may have been a forerunner of Signal Station Road with a detour to the guard house on the crest of Middle Hill.

10. Possibly a military guard house intended to warn of similar incursions from the eastern side by enemy forces. 

South-East Section

Sea-level Caves
The map must surely be unique in depicting the Gorham complex of sea-level caves found on the eastern side of the Rock. Unfortunately they are neither numbered nor identified. My guess is that they are meant to represent from left to right,  Bennet’s, Gorham’s, Vanguard,  Boat Hoist’s and Ammunition Jetties Caves.

13. Known to the Spanish as el Hacho and as Signal Station to the British

16. Europa Point ?

17. Either a barracks at Windmill hill or the site of the Chapel of Our lady of Europa which was converted into a store by the British right up to the 19th century and beyond.

18. Road leading to the western coast of the Rock

19. Europa Road

20. Wall across Europa Road 

21. Europa Pass Gate.

I really cannot tell but if I was forced to guess I would say  a few years before the start of the Great Siege – say the  1770s . But it would not surprise me in the least if somebody came up with a good reason for another date.