The People of Gibraltar
1861 - William Tallack - Bright Yellow Houses

Sir William Codrington and the Duke of Kent 

William Tallack was a Quaker social activist who spent much of his life campaigning for penal reform. His advocacy for the prevention of crime and the rehabilitation of offenders - rather than simply punishing them - was unusual for his time. He published his view in articles and pamphlets and the best known book on his views is his Defects of Criminal Administration which was published in 1872 

Well before that, however, he indulged himself with a visit to Malta which he considered as "one of the most interesting and important of all islands" containing "the most stupendous series of fortifications in the world" and "a place of universal interest and cosmopolitan population." His account of this trip was published in 1861 under the title of Malta under the Penicians, Knights, and English. The quotes and comments below refer to his two visits to Gibraltar - the first on his way to Malta and the second on his return home.

The First Visit 
Arrival - We soon sighted the Rock of Gibraltar gradually opening out round a point; then more and more of it, and its beautiful Bay, named from the Spanish town of Algeciras, which is very conspicuous on its western side opposite the town of Gibraltar. The Bay is six miles long, and four broad.

Bay of Gibraltar  ( 1829 - Edmund Patten )
Two common but mistaken ideas about Gibraltar are, first, that Europa Point is the most southern extremity of Europe; and, secondly, that the town fronts the Straits, and so commands the entrance to the Mediterranean.  So far from this being the case, it is two miles up the bay, and looks due west . . . It is only the narrow extremity of the Rock towards Europa Point which looks towards Africa and the Straits. That point is not so far south as Cape Tarifa, fifteen miles west of it and which is midway up the Straits. 
Gibraltar, independently of being a naval station, can hardly be said to command the entrance to the Mediterranean. Its chief use to Britain is as a stepping-stone and link on the route to India, just as Malta and Aden are. On the spot, Gibraltar goes by the familiar name of “the Rock.”  . . .  
All along the shelves and sides of these southern and western slopes are long lines of wall and battery, some of them stretching far up to the extreme summit of the rock, nearly 1,500 feet above the water. At that lofty point is the signal-tower and flag-staff, where a perpetual look-out is kept up over the surrounding panorama of land and sea. 

Signal Hill   ( Mid 19th century - John Miller Adye )  (See LINK)
Ships coming either way are seen miles off from this aerial perch, and are immediately telegraphed to the town below. The Rock rises up so abruptly from the main street of Gibraltar that it seems almost to overhang the houses in some places; and it is so steep on the eastern side, that, to a spectator on the sea, it appears as if a man could almost fling a stone from the flag-staff into the Mediterranean far below. 

The view from Signal Hill   ( Mid 19th century - Unknown )
The top of the Rock is often covered by strata of clouds, something like the “cloth” on Table Mountain, at Cape Town. . . .
That 'strata of cloud' was and is still locally known as the levante - in other words the wind from the east.
The Rock does not contain any harbour at its base, but ships have to lie at anchor a mile or two out in the middle of the bay, so that all persons visiting Gibraltar must disembark by means of small boats and be rowed a considerable distance to the shore. This is an inconvenience very common in the Peninsula and in various parts of the Mediterranean.
It was a state of affairs that all ships would have to put up with until harbour and dockyard developments were carried out during the late 19th and early 20th century.

Not even the Lords of the Admiralty visiting Gibraltar aboard the Channel Fleet were able to park their ships anywhere closer to the Rock  ( 1860s - The Illustrated London News )
There is a small quay for boats at the inner end of Gibraltar, close to the Old Mole, (see LINK) or Devil's Tongue, which is a long fortified pier projecting into the water from the ramparts, and so named from the terrific discharge kept up from its heavy guns during the celebrated Great Siege. (See LINK

The Rock from the Devil's Tongue    ( Mid 19th century - Unknown )
At the outer end of the town is another rough landing-place for boats, called the Ragged Staff; and a third is about a mile nearer Europa Point, and named the New Mole. To a person inside the Bay it seems like a fine lake, with the appearance of being entirely landlocked by the grand coasts of Andalusia, the Rock, and the African mountains behind. 
Soon after we anchored, a quarantine officer came alongside in a boat to examine the ship’s bill of health. This ceremony is conducted with much unnecessary routine, especially so with respect to ships coming from northern healthy ports. The papers were not handled, but received with iron tongs and laid down carefully on the boat, and kept open by weights, and so read over. 
These lengthy quarantine procedures were in effect a throw back on the various yellow fever and other epidemics of the previous decades which had more than decimated the population of Gibraltar, both civil and military. (See LINK
Meanwhile we had to keep the yellow flag flying for about an hour, as, owing to some trifling omission in the prescribed form of the papers, we were refused “pratique” (or permission to land) till further orders were obtained from shore. We had to wait whilst the officer was rowed a mile to land, and until another boat came out and set us at liberty; upon which several of us immediately went back in her to the town, whilst the steamer proceeded to take in her supply of 130 tons of coal for her passage thence to Malta. We had already used more than that quantity in coming from London. 

The Java - last surviving East Indiaman which was used in Gibraltar harbour as a coal hulk for 80 years. It was already there when Tallack's ship called. It may very well have taken its coal from its holds   (Unknown ) (See LINK
The People - On landing at the boat-quay many things seemed thoroughly foreign . . . where we had called on our way out. Gibraltar is a peculiarly cosmopolitan place, and a great haunt of Jews, Moors, and smugglers. Many different costumes are always to be seen; such as the coarse narrow striped robes and hoods of the lean Moors, the turbans of Jews and Arabs, the tarboosh of the Levantine, the flowing, loose, and looped trowsers of Tunisians and Greeks, and the bright regimentals of the garrison. 
The Moors are a very tall race of men. Some of those seen at Gibraltar are proportionally broad, and wear expensive dresses of bright red, blue, and yellow colours. Others are exceedingly lank and hungry-looking, with keen, restless eyes. The Spaniards are generally tolerably round-faced, very brown, and with full dark eyes. 

Moorish merchant of Gibraltar   (1832 - Commodore Perry )  (See LINK)
The muleteers (many of whom are seen in Gibraltar) wear a picturesque costume of slashed jacket, knee-breeches, and large embroidered boots divided at the side. Their hats are in the Guy Fawkes or brigand style, and their faces brown, and suggestive of being ready for adventure. They are very fond of embroidery on their dresses. Others wear coarse velvet jackets and very flat low hats, having their brims turned straight up at the edges.  
The Spanish women in Gibraltar mostly wear a small black shawl over their heads, like the Irish in Munster. Others wear long trains of black lace flowing behind from their dark thick hair. . . 

Gibraltar - Daughters of our Empire  - Allegorical   ( 1886 - Edwin Long  )
The town is entered through several tunnelled gateways, leading through a barrack-yard into the Main Street, which is about a mile long, and runs at the foot of the Rock, parallel with the Bay. In a garden on the ramparts near the quay were abundant bright red blossoms of the aloe. Midway up the street is a square containing an English hotel and Garrison Club. (See LINK

The Garrison Library - located in Gunner's Parade rather than the Commercial Square midway up Main Street as suggested by the author  ( 1830s - Frederick Leeds Edridge )  (See LINK)
Close by it is an English church, with windows in the Moorish style. Gibraltar and Malta both belong to the same Episcopal see, named after the former place. The bishop chiefly resides at Malta. Near the Protestant church there is another belonging to the Roman Catholics, and in which, as we passed it, the bells were sounding promiscuously like a number of gongs. 

The Protestant Cathedral of the Holy Trinity ( Unknown )
On both sides of the Main Street steep, narrow, irregular lanes, lead up and down. Everywhere overhead tower the limestone precipices of the huge Rock. These are pierced in all directions by gun- holes. Many of the batteries are quite invisible from below, and others look very inconspicuous, and require careful observation to be seen at all. They resemble mere pigeon-holes in the cliffs. The Rock is thus perforated in all directions for guns, passages, and magazines. Some of the “galleries” are excavated completely through it, from side to side. 

The Galleries   ( 19th century English School )
It costs Britain upwards of £420,000 per annum, being very nearly the same expense as Malta; and, consequently, receiving from her more than all Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand put together. It seems difficult to conceive, how such expenditure can be really required on such a small spot for year after year. 
At the land end of Gibraltar the sea comes almost close up to the high precipices of the Rock, leaving only a few yards of width for a passage to the flat narrow isthmus of sand which joins it to the province of Andalusia. This isthmus is about a quarter of a mile wide, and a mile and a half in length. A space in the middle of it is called “the neutral ground,” and is not claimed by either nation. 

The Neutral Ground theoretically stretched from the Spanish lines - of which the ruins appear in the foreground of this picture - to the base of the Rock   ( Late 19th century - General Evan Maberly RA ) 

Spain has actually never relinquished sovereignty over this stretch of the isthmus as they have held on to their interpretation of the Treaty of Utrecht (see LINK) which ceded Gibraltar to Britain and in which there is no mention of the isthmus. In reality both sides have encroached over the years into the territory with the result that no 'Neutral Ground as such exists today.
Between this and the rise of the Rock the level sands are used as a parade-ground for the troops of the garrison, and for an encampment. There are, besides several guard- houses stationed here and there, some gardens, and a cemetery. A fine road runs along the isthmus, and it is hourly traversed by numerous vehicles, horsemen, muleteers, and others. In Spain it is not reckoned respectable to travel on foot, and every one who can ride does so. The officers of the garrison and their ladies also use this road as a carriage promenade. They have no other, except the limited extent at the south end of the town. Some of the Spanish men ride on their mules side-ways, like a lady. They have also a curious clumsy wooden carriole, of bright colours, and in common use. 

A local muleteer and his 'wooden carriole'   ( 1844 - George Lothian Hall )  (See LINK

Several years after William Tallack's visit, military transport in Gibraltar was carried out by Gibraltarian auxiliaries of the War Department who were known as 'Carreteros del Rey’. They were attached to the Army Service Corps. They used long carts, known locally as ‘trucos’, which were pulled by a varying number of mules. They may have looked clumsy as Tallack suggests, but in fact their hinged back wheel axels made them ideal transport vehicles for the narrow streets of the Rock. Some of these men took part in the British- Egyptian Campaign of 1882-1889.
All along the Spanish end of the neutral ground is a line of stone sentry lodges, with soldiers pacing to and fro, or lounging about in groups. The guard-house is here, on both sides of the highway, leading from the town. On one side of it are elevated the royal arms of Spain. Pedestrians, and persons riding for pleasure, are generally allowed to pass through unexamined.  
Just inside the frontier is a little village, and near it are gardens enclosed by spiny hedges of tall aloes. I observed similar ones in Gibraltar, and at the English end of the isthmus: they form very effectual fences. Plenty of the Indian cactus, or prickly pear, is to be seen hereabouts, and a few palm trees.

The Rock from the Spanish frontier ( 1860s - El Museo del Istmo - La Línea )

The Second Visit 
On our return from Malta, at the commencement of summer, we again visited the Rock, and were delighted with the bloom and fragrance of the flowers. The gardens of the Alameda are the favourite promenade of the inhabitants, especially at evening; they are then crowded with every variety of costume. Here one may sometimes see some of the many Jews resident in the town, sitting pensively, with their faces turned towards Jerusalem. 
The Alameda -  is situated outside the south of the town, in the direction of Europa Point. (see LINK) It is laid out in beautiful winding walks, up and down the steep slopes at the foot of the cliffs. Statuary and other monuments are interspersed. . . . Between the trees are fine views over the bay, shipping, the Sierras, the Straits, and the African mountains.

The Alameda Gardens    (Late 19th c Edward Angelo Goodall )

Main Street - In the Main Street I observed a book-shop, and, on going in to buy something, entered into conversation with a person resident there; from whom I found that there exists in Gibraltar a small but earnest band of religious soldiers: these hold prayer-meetings regularly at the house adjoining the bookshop. I was also informed that there are, connected with the garrison, Episcopalian, Wesleyan, and Presbyterian ministers whose services are very welcome to at least a portion of the soldiers. 

Main Street looking South towards the Catholic Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned  ( mid 19th century - Unknown )
The same shop is the depot for the publications of the Religious Tract Society, and also for the British and Foreign Bible Society. It thus forms an interesting little centre of religious and intellectual light for the inhabitants of Gibraltar. Its occupant was led to take an interest in promoting the establishment of the private prayer meeting, there held, by being casually asked for a tract by a soldier some years ago.  
This produced inquiry, then interest, then action, and who knows what great good may spring from the continuance and diffusion of religious influences amongst the soldiers of that isolated spot, although commenced on so humble a scale as was the case? 
There are several fine caverns in the Rock, and these contain abundance of stalactites and products of crystallization. Some of these are made up into ornaments, and form a common article of sale in the shops of the town. They are generally spoken of as being made of “petrified water.” 

St Michael's Cave  ( Mid 19th century - Arnaut )
The Monkeys . . . often spoken of, but seldom seen. There are many of them; but, owing to the inaccessible parts of the cliffs which they chiefly frequent, they are difficult to get at. Besides which, they are under the special protection of the Governor, and public notices prohibit their molestation. On account of their custom of keeping in the upper part of the cliffs, such prohibitions are scarcely necessary. They shift about from side to side of the precipices, according to the direction of the wind, and take care to keep to the leeward. This is the only natural habitat for monkeys in Europe. These are the same species as are found on the opposite mountains of Morocco. They are of the ape kind, and are from twelve to eighteen inches high.

The Apes   ( 1854 - E. Widick )
The Markets - The fish-market of Gibraltar is well known for the variety of the species sold there. Amongst other kinds, I observed the strange Hammer-headed Shark, and numerous Cuttlefish. The fruit-market is also well and variously furnished, and I saw in it abundance of oranges, pomegranates, lemons, figs, prunes, raisins, grapes, walnuts, apples, olives, and quinces. This is one of the cheapest places in Europe for fruit. For instance, good oranges may be purchased for about ten-pence a hundred.  
English money passes current in Gibraltar and elsewhere in the Mediterranean: indeed, it is preferred to the coin of any other country. The market-vendors, and others in Gibraltar, are most exorbitant in their demands on strangers. The Maltese have a bad name for the same, but I found the Rock men far worse: indeed, they are familiarly called, in the Mediterranean, “Rock-scorpions.” They will ask nearly ten times as much money for wares, in some cases, as they will afterwards accept for the same. In this they resemble the Orientals of the countries around and beyond the Levant. There are many Jews and Americans in Gibraltar, all of them very keen in business.

The Market Place   ( Late 19th century - Frederick Stephens )  (See LINK)
Tobacco - The chief article of sale in the town appeared to be cigars, cigars everywhere, and in almost every one’s mouth. Visitors usually take the opportunity afforded by landing at Gibraltar, for laying in a stock of “prime” ones. It is, probably, second only to Havana, as a cigar mart, in the whole world. The prices are very much lower than those charged in Malta, and of course still less than the high price for the same article in England. What a large amount of money must be annually converted into smoke in Gibraltar! 
The gates of Gibraltar (see LINK) are closed, for the night, at sunset, and after that no one is allowed to go in or out without a permit from Governor. This is often a source of great inconvenience, and we had to hasten away from the upper end of the town in order to escape this unpleasant position 
The Governors - The Governor of Gibraltar is like a little king and rules absolutely over his rocky domain. Probably no British colonial governor has such unlimited power as he possesses. It would be well if he would, or could, use it more effectively, for the restraint of some serious evils for which the Rock has an unpleasant notoriety. 

Sir William Codrington (see LINK) who was almost certainly the Governor of Gibraltar when Tallack was visiting   (Unknown )
Ever since the British took it from the Spaniards, it appears to have been considered out of place for a Gibraltar governor to interpose strenuously for the maintenance of morality. The Duke of Kent (see LINK) was a noble instance of unflinching effort to introduce a better state of things. He was the best of the sons of George the Third, and was treated as the worst. Religious, enlightened, and humane, he was made the subject of persecution on account of his virtues, and particularly in connection with his good efforts at Gibraltar.  
The home authorities, instead of supporting him, lent their influence to the enemies of himself and of morality. His dissolute brother, the Prince Regent, was far more agreeable to the standard of those who opposed Edward, Duke of Kent. He was, however, underProvidence, an instrument of great future blessing, by the purity and excellence of his domestic example; an example, the good fruits of which are now seen in the present influence of the British throne. . . 

The Duke of Kent
The Markets (Part 2) - The next day, before sailing, we went ashore again, and revisited the town and markets. The latter are close to the boat-quay, and always present a lively scene of bustle and variety of costume. Among the fish most commonly sold in the market is the Rock-cod: it is very palatable, but has a peculiarly thick leathery skin. 
I observed, in walking through Gibraltar, that there are scarcely any English-looking shops to be seen. Instead of having rectangular fronts, they have merely one aperture, serving for door and window at the same time; at least, the windows are very narrow frames, at the side of a wide doorway, and the whole forming one broad arch; so that, when the shops are closed, they look like rows of shut-up arched stable-doors. 
The same kind of shop-front is common in Malta, and other parts of the Mediterranean, and at Cape Town. The Governor’s Palace at Gibraltar is an old-fashioned-looking building, which resembles a convent rather than a palace. It is situated near the south gate of the town.

The 'Governor's Palace' was indeed originally a convent and was locally referred to as 'the Convent'   ( 19th century  - Unknown )
A very conspicuous object from the Bay is a Moorish tower, which rises at the top of the inner end of the town, and is both ancient and picturesque. (See LINK

The Moorish Castle   ( 1860s Carl Goebel )  (See LINK
The houses in Gibraltar are, many of them, of a bright yellow, and mostly have green blinds, (see LINK) or projecting balconies; so that the scene of town, bay, and mountains, furnishes a good degree of colour contrast. . . .  
Close under the evening shadow of the former crouches the town of Ceuta. This is well fortified, and, although in Morocco, it belongs to Spain. Their possession of it is, naturally, just as much of an eye-sore to the Moors, as the English occupation of Gibraltar is to themselves. It would, doubtless, be most mortifying to England if France were in an impregnable and permanent position on Dover Castle, the Isle of Wight, or St. Michael’s Mount. Smuggling - 
The annoyance would be still greater, if such contiguity of a foreign race were made a means of affording facility to smugglers and desperadoes. This is just the case with Gibraltar. It is a very nest of contrabandists; and “the trade” is rather fostered than discouraged. (See LINK) If a Spanish revenue-boat chases a smuggling craft within reach of the Rock guns, it is considered quite a right, and even a pleasure, to fire upon her for “encroaching.”

Shipping off Gibraltar   (1875 - Wilhelm Melbye )  (See LINK)
Anecdote - A resident at Gibraltar gave me an animated account of the exercise of such a “right” on an occasion when he was standing close to some gunners on one of the forts, and who were watching with interest a fast-sailing smuggler being chased by the Spanish revenue officers. Several unsuccessful aims were made at the latter as soon as within reach, but not so as to prevent the pursuit. “Here, let me try at her!” exclaimed an amateur bystander. His shot immediately took the Spaniard close to the water's edge, and the officers had barely time to get out of her into a boat near them, before she sank. 
Years afterwards (and, I believe, during a visit to England), the same gentleman who had witnessed it was narrating it to a company as an instance of a peculiarly skilful aim at a rapidly moving distant object, when one of the persons present joined in with “Ah! You are quite right there, sir; for I am the very man who fired that shot:” and he proved to be the one.Many similar incidents are fresh in the memory of the Rock people. Still one does not see the necessity for such interference with the just administrative rights of Spain. It is no essential part of the purposes for which the Rock costs Britain upwards of a thousand guineas for every day throughout the year.

Gibraltar from a Beach at Estepona    ( 1855 - Fritz Bamberger - Detail )

Even within a framework of our own modern day liberal standards, William Tallack was undoubtedly a generous and compassionate man. He strongly believed that crime was caused by poverty and a lack of a proper education and pushed for better schooling and housing for the poor. Offenders, he suggested, should be offered opportunities for moral education and reflection, so that they could seek forgiveness in the eyes of God - and presumably rehabilitation in the eyes of his peers. In 1863 he became the secretary for the Society for the Abolition of the Death Penalty

His description of Gibraltar offers even more evidence of his attractive personality - reluctant to criticise and eager to point out what he rightly considered as unjust and unnecessary. His chapter on Gibraltar is therefore, in my view, well worth the read.