The People of Gibraltar
2019 - Los Patios de Flat Bastion - Gibraltar

(1627 - Detail of a plan of Gibraltar - Luis Bravo de Acuña)

Flat Bastion - known to the Spanish as the Baluarte de Santiago was probably built in the 16th century. It was attached to and lay south of the then newly created Charles V Wall. Pre-1704 the road leading to and through it from the town was known as la Senda del Pastor.

Today the road continues to take its name from its military origins - Flat Bastion Road - although during the late 19th century local residents with their usual inclination to rename officially designated names - rechristened it La Cuesta Mistebon.

According to one local historian a blacksmith named Mr Bourne owned a forge on this road in the 1870s - hence “Mr Bourne” giving way to the local Llanito patois equivalent of "Mistebon".  According to others however, the name comes from a boy’s school on Flat Bastion Road run by  . . . .  yes, indeed, somebody called Mr. Bourne.

Section of plan showing part of an area between Prince Edward’s and Flat Bastion Roads

However, the history of this school - as shown on the plan - does not seem to favour the second theory as it describes the “once upon a time” existence of a “Girls and infants” Public School which was, incidentally, one of the earliest available for the children of civilian residents. It was a non-denominational establishment set up in 1832 as a free “Public” school. 

The building itself was provided by the Government free of charge.  Also given the prevailing political leanings at the time  among its well-off merchant class where charitable donations towards the costs of public services were much to be preferred to any sort of compulsory taxation - the school was funded by voluntary contributions. It was run by a Committee set up by the Governor Sir William Houston and was closed in the 1920s. In other words it was not a boy's school and there is no mention of a Mr. Bourne.

Not long after its closure it seems to have been conveniently adapted for private accommodation which - appropriately - became known as el Patio Escuela.

The Patios of Flat Bastion Road   (Adapted from an early 20th century postcard)

Patio Escuela had three floors with numerous rooms that were converted into flats. Opposite this building there was once an old ruin called La Casa Rota which included an opening to a World War II shelter.

Somewhat incongruously the building once had a large doorway which has long since been bricked up. It was designed to allow cannons to be moved into Raglan’s Battery which was constructed in the 1850s some twenty years after the school had opened. It was named after Baron Raglan - aka Lord Fitzroy aka James Henry Somerset.  

This was the officer in charge during the Crimean War and was responsible for sundry fiascos - including that of the celebrated “Charge of the Light Brigade” - and was duly pilloried after the War.  I cannot see any connection with Gibraltar and cannot understand why the battery was named after him.

An unusual shot as it shows five cannons - all other photographs of this battery, and there are quite a few, only show two - The school must have been just over the wall on the left  (From an album by an anonymous collector - 1860s)

South of the school and separated from it by Morello’s Ramp are another group of buildings, the first and most southerly would become Patio Francisquin and the next one Patio Banana.

Possibly either Morello’s or Gowland’s Ramp      (1882 - Kate E. Bough)

Francisquin is almost certainly a Llanito derivative of Francis King - but the connection between this gentleman and the patio eludes me as does the name of Patio Banana.

Looking north, the school terrace overlooked yet another distinctive building - El Patio de las Palmeras.

The palm tree on the right on this mid to later 19th century photograph may very well be the one that gave its name to the patio   (J.H. Mann - detail)

The town from Flat Bastion with the patio’s palm tree in the foreground   (Early 20th century Postcard)


At 47 Flat Bastion Road there was yet another patio. It occupied a large building which was just opposite el Patio de la Palmera. Its name - Patio Baca - possibly derives from a particular individual associated with the building - or the narrow lane behind it which was and is still known as Baca’s Passage.

Patio Baca ( 2019 - Anthony Aguilera)

In what must have been a relentlessly overcrowded area, el Patio de las Palmeras overlooked yet another of Flat Bastion’s many patios. This one could easily be identified by its seven identical chimneys - el Patio de las Siete Chimineas. It is the last but not the least of the Flat Bastion patios - particularly as I am certain that I have missed out more than a few.

El Patio de las Siete Chimineas - the photo was probably taken from the terrace of Patio Escuela

(1879 - From an album compiled by Captain Samuel Buckle)