The People of Gibraltar
1870 - Photos of Gibraltar - Introduction 

Almost exactly six years ago I wrote an introduction to what I hoped would eventually become a series of short essays on the history of my home town. My aim was to focus as far as possible on its social history and to try to side-step Gibraltar’s overwhelmingly military past. I also thought it wise to disguise my serious limitations as a writer by illustrating each article with as many relevant pictures and photographs as I could possible find. 

Whether I was successful or not, readers can - if they so wish - judge for themselves as I have posted each essay - around 700 at the time of writing - on separate blogs. An index with links to each article can be found here - The People of Gibraltar.

Most of the material I use to illustrate my articles comes from various sites and one of my earlier finds was a series of late 19th century photos of Gibraltar held by the University of Navarra. Most of these were dated 1868, a large number of them attributed to anonymous photographers. They had one thing in common - the quality of the digital copies was very poor. 

The same university holds another series also dated 1866 but unframed. Tantalisingly some of the locations on these photos are given a number - but there are no captions.

I later discovered high definition copies of many of these photos and was able to attribute quite a few of them to photographers such as James Hollingworth Mann (see LINK) Francis Frith (see LINK), Jean Laurent (see LINK) and others.

It was only recently, however, that I came across 45 photographs on the website of the Spanish Ministry of Defence which were very similar in presentation to the framed set shown above.

The quality of the digital copies is an improvement and - as with the second University of Navarra set, certain locations on the photos are numbered. Again - irritatingly - there are no captions. All of them are identified as having been published in Madrid in 1896 from  a selection of 60 photographs collected by Lieutenant Colonel Federico Magellanes y Barros - a piece of information which annoyingly reveals that the set of 45 shown on the site is incomplete.

In 2017 - salvation! The University of Navarra published Gibraltar [1888], a beautifully illustrated book in which Juan Carlos Pardo - with introductory chapters by others - describes the whys and wherefores of this historically interesting 60 photograph collection. The numbered locations are also now revealed with appropriate Spanish captions. Anybody remotely interested in the history behind these photographs - as well as of the history of Gibraltar during this era - should buy the book. It is worth every penny.

The “1896” given by the Ministry is the date when the first set of photographs shown above was published in Madrid under the title of Vistas Fotográficas del Peñón de Gibraltar. The “c1868” dates given by the University of Navarra for most of the photos in the second set were probably based on the known dates of a few of the older ones. 

Additionally and as far as I can make out the “1888” that forms part of the title of the book Gibraltar [1888] refers to the appointment of Lieutenant Colonel Federico Magellanes y Barros as president of the Comisión del Plano de Algeciras which was ultimately responsible for collecting, annotating, editing and publishing the 60 photographs of Gibraltar.

My feeling is that on average the bulk of the photos were published around 1870 when J.H. Mann was 54 years old and a resident of the Rock since 1864 - all of which hopefully explains my own preference for “1870 - Gibraltar” as the title for this introduction and the following chapters which show the 60 photographs with my own interpretation - in English - of the locations identified on them. To make life easier for myself and anybody interested in having a look I have divided the set into 5 separate posts which can be accessed from the following links.

1870 - Photos of Gibraltar - Part 1
1870 - Photos of Gibraltar - Part 2
1870 - Photos of Gibraltar - Part 3
1870 - Photos of Gibraltar - Part 4