The People of Gibraltar
1859 - Charles Clifford -  Calle de las Infantas

If I could go back in time to the early decades of the 1850s and taken a leisurely stroll along the Calle de las Infantas in the middle of Madrid I might just have managed to notice the shop at No.13. The owner was a Welshman, his name Charles Clifford, and his business was photography.

Charles Clifford and his family   ( Between 1859 and 1860 )

If Henry Fox Talbot can be credited with being the inventor of commercial photography in the 1840s, then Charles Clifford must count as a pioneer. Despite carrying out much of his work in Spain he was nevertheless pretty well-known internationally. Queen Victoria, for example, commissioned him to photograph her in Windsor Castle in 1861.

That very same year he also published a couple of volumes chock-a-block full of photographs using various methods being developed at the time. They were commissioned by people such as the King and Queen of Spain, the Emperors of France, Russia and Austria - as well as by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Among the collection were two of Gibraltar and one of nearby Algeciras just across the Bay from the Rock. There may have been more but I have as yet not been able to find any digital evidence for them. Here they are.

The Rock from the western beach in Spain - It is a classic shot that will be repeated endlessly by many other well known photographers   ( 1859c )

The northern area   ( Detail of main photograph )

Moorish Castle (see LINK) and town ( Detail of main photograph )

View of the town from one of the Moorish Castle walls   ( 1859c ) 

The cannon and ordnance on the left belong to Jones's Battery. According to local historian Tito Vallejo, the hill that can be seen in the middle below the cliffs was known locally as la Cuesta del Mortuorio. The gardens in the foreground were those belonging to the residence of Gibraltar's chief engineer, with its entrance well below the limits of the photograph in Engineer Lane. The locals called it el Coronel presumably based on the fact that most of Gibraltar's chief engineer's were - at the very least - colonels.



A view of Algeciras

A view of the southern side of Algeciras   ( Detail )

A view of the northern side of Algeciras   ( Detail )

The photo is one of the few old ones of Algeciras where a cut-off date can be identified. The engraving below it is from a December 1859 edition of the Illustrated London News in which the caption states that it was based on the photo above it. It was taken by Charles Clifford Infantas. The “Infantas” referred to Clifford’s shop in Calle de las Infantas in Madrid.