The People of Gibraltar
1787 - Vicente Tofiño – The Rio Palmenos

Vicente Tofiño de San Miguel was a Spanish military officer with numerous claims to fame as a specialist in artillery, mathematician, astronomer, hydrographer and cartographer. 

Vicente Tofiño de San Miguel

In 1782 he took part in the Great Siege of Gibraltar (See LINK) as an adjutant to the Duke of Crillón and by 1785 he had risen through the ranks to become a rear admiral.  He then carried out a monumental survey of the ports and coasts of Spain and North Africa - Derrotero de las costas de España en el Mediterráneo y su correspondiente de África - and published his findings in two volumes. The first was published in 1787, the second two years later. They are considered to be one of the first - if not the very first - modern cartographical works ever produced.

Pages 12 to 22 of the first volume contain a detailed description of a corresponding map of Gibraltar which includes the Bay and part of the surrounding Campo de Gibraltar. The maps were published in a separate volume. The one with Gibraltar – Plano Geométrico de la Bahía de Algeciras y Gibraltar – is one of the finest in the collection. 

Map title and caption key

The complete map - For a larger view (See LINK)

In 1804 a “reduced” French copy of Tofino’s map was published on the instructions of the French Vice-admiral Decres, Napoleon's minister for the Navy and the Colonies. As far as I can make out it is a reasonably faithful copy – other than that the Rio Palmones is given incorrectly as Rio Palmenos.

Map title – no captions as these were incorporated directly on to the map

The complete map - For a larger view (See LINK)

Gibraltar and Isthmus – Crop from map shown above

La Linea and San Roque - Crop from map shown above

The west side of the Bay and Algeciras - Crop from map shown above

Tofiño’s map was included in the Atlas Itinerario de España. I cannot find its date of publication but the maps included are dated variously 1786 to 1837. Reading between the lines Alexandre de la Bourde may have been one of the editors as well as the contributor of a map of the Algeciras-Gibraltar area which is based on Tofino’s but promotes the Palmones/Palmenos mistake shown on the French version. 

Map title

Complete Map – For a larger view (See LINK

Rather unusually Gibraltar has the honour of being the only place which appears twice on the Atlas. Even more unusual is the fact that the two plans are quite different from each other.

Second plan of Gibraltar on the Atlas Itinerario de España - For a larger image (See LINK)

Continuing the saga, yet another unknown engraver used Tofiño’s map – or at any rate the “reduced” French version by Alexandre de la Bourde’s as the Palmenos error persists - to produce a plan showing ship placements during the First Battle of Algeciras which took place in 1801. As suggested on the map title it seems to have been created at the behest of Ambroise Tardieu a well-known French cartographer.

Map title

The Battle was a naval engagement that took place in 1801 in front of the town of Algeciras during the French Revolutionary Wars. The English Admiral Saumarez miscalculated and the British lost the battle – which might explain why Ambroise Tardieu – a Frenchman - was interested in this relatively unimportant skirmish. The publication date of publication is unknown. 

Complete Map – For a larger view (See LINK

In 1872 a new survey was carried out under the command of Captain José de Montoya of the Spanish Navy. The result is a brand new map of the area published in 1875 still looking remarkably similar to that produced by Tofiño nearly a century previously other than a small inset showing the town of Algeciras in greater detail and the disappearance of the Spanish Lines which had been demolished in 1810. (See LINK) Perhaps for the first time national borders are also shown on both the Spanish and the British sides which clearly define the Neutral Ground.

Map title

Complete Map – For a larger view (See LINK

Gibraltar – Crop of main map defining the Neutral Ground - For a larger view (See LINK

The same plan – still attributed to José de Montoya - was reviewed in 1875 and published by the Dirección de Hygrografia in Madrid. It included corrections and additions carried out in 1877 and 1878 as well as an inset showing the newly extended New Mole in Gibraltar.  The national borders and Neutral Ground are no longer shown. Territorial waters are also defined – perhaps for the first time. 

Map title

Complete Map – For a larger view (See LINK

Isthmus, Gibraltar and surrounding territorial waters  - Crop from above map - For a larger view (See LINK)

In 1928 and 29 the Servicio Hidrografico de la Armada carried out another survey producing a rather nicely illustrated map which extended from Zahara in the West to Punta Torre Nueva in the East. It was published in 1932 and included the Detached Mole in Gibraltar Harbour and several newly constructed enlargements to the port of Algeciras including the development of the mole near the Rio de la Miel - in particular the pier used as the terminal for the Algeciras (Gibraltar) Railway bringing passengers to the ferry boats that would take them to the Rock. (See LINK)

Map Title

Complete Map – For a larger view (See LINK

In 1934 the Servicio Hidrográfico of the Spanish Navy produced yet another map of the Bay which was later updated in 1951. The later version shows the Neutral Ground as Campo Militar Español. The Gibraltar Airport which was built during WW II makes its first appearance. .

Map title 

Complete 1951 Map – For a larger view (See LINK

Gibraltar La Línea and isthmus - Crop from above map - For a larger view (See LINK)

I am far from being an expert in the art of map making and I am sure that many other plans and charts of the area have been published since this last one. But by my book Vicente Tofiño’s original work stands out as a truly influential cartographical representation of the Bay of Gibraltar-Algeciras and its surrounding countryside.