The People of Gibraltar
1818 - Exchange Library of Gibraltar - The Opening Ceremony

(Copied from the Original Publication)

On Wednesday the 26th inst (1) at 1 o’clock P.M. the subscribers to the New Exchange assembled at the Convent whence . . .the Lt Governor proceeded with them to Commercial Square.

On their arrival in front of the building H. Excellency was presented with the Keys by Mr. J. Duguid, Chairman of the Committee and opened the principal gate. The Offices and all the apartments were examined; after which, H. Excellency and the subscribers having repaired to the large room intended for the Library, His Excellency addressed the Subscribers in the following words.
Gentlemen. About 17 months have elapsed since we assembled to witness the laying of the foundation Stone of the Building which now encompasses us within its walls - we all anticipated that it would owe its successful progress to the energy of that Public spirit which is the peculiar boast of our country; and we have not been deceived. 
This generous feeling has been here strikingly exemplified. Although difficulties have arisen in various instances, they have only afforded a fresh stimulus to exertion. People, differing in habits, language and religion, have co-operated in raising this structure, as a point of union for the arbitration of their several interests, as well by pecuniary contributions, as by voluntary labour, means of transport, of materials at first cost; and a government, mild and paternal of which I am but the Organ blends its designs with those of his Subjects,  to promote a work, the end of which is the common good of all. 
It is gratifying to see these proofs of patriotic emulation, and still more so, to trace them to the operation of Laws which by giving security of property, identify the interests of the Individual with those of the Community. 
To our late commanding Engineer, Maj. Gen. Sir Charles Holloway, the merit of the feelings I have describe, mixed with a sense of public duty, belongs in the highest degree. Under his direction, the building was planned: and as at first our probable resources were scanty, the most studied economy was considered in its design. While he was present with us he watched over its progress with unremitting attention, and previous to his embarkation, left instructions which have been carefully followed and which have ensured its effective completion. 
The result, Gentlemen, we now see: We possess in this Fabric, a Public Exchange, and Auction Mart of a simple but ornamental exterior, massive and durable in its construction, and commodious in the distribution of its offices and apartments, where, if the conveniences of business have been studied, the means of literary resource and even of recreation, have not been neglected. 
I sincerely hope that under this roof the Transactions of our trade will proceed with activity and success: and, although it may, from the existence of the calamity which afflicts the opposite coast (9) be necessary to impose some restraint on Commercial enterprise in that Quarter; I assure you that no effort shall be wanting, on my part, to promote, in this respect, the interests of the Public at large, consistently with the safety of the Fortress.
His Excellency then requested the Chairman to read the Rules and Regulations; which being done, Mr. Duguid addressed the Meeting nearly to the following purpose: 

He stated the grateful sense entertained of the benefits enjoyed by the Inhabitants of Gibraltar under His Excellency’s Government and that every mind present must be convinced of the great interest His Excellency had taken in the success of this Building from its commencement to the present day; - that, without his powerful assistance and support, it could not have been accomplished on any scale, much less on one so elegant as that on which it had been finished  - but on contemplating this as one great work of his Excellency the Lieut. Governor, they must not forget numerous others which have been completed thru’ his persevering means.

Although foreign to the object of the present meeting he, (the Chairman) took it upon himself to mention somewhat in the moment occurred to his memory - The Civil Hospital and the Medical attendance gratuitously afforded to the Poor - the extensive Public Sewers and new paving of the Streets, the Gardens and Sheds established on the Neutral Ground (12) - to all of which the public was unquestionably indebted for that marked enjoyment of Health which the Garrison has experienced since H. Excellency’s arrival; - the New Alameda, and numerous other benefits, he trusted, the Committee would soon have an opportunity of submitting their sentiments to the General Meeting without the ostentation which any motion now made, might have the appearance of possessing, in the presence of His Excellency.

He stated that the Committee had been unremitting in their endeavours, since their appointment, to complete the duties which had been required of them; that the meeting would perceive considerable progress had already been made; and, from the unanimity which they were supported by all interested, he had no doubt but that they would now finish their labours - he stated the high sense which the Committee entertained of the services and assistance rendered to the building by Major-General Sir Charles Holloway, Chief Engineer, from its commencement to the period when the Major-General left the Garrison;- that the Committee had been anxiously looking for some opportunity to express their sentiments, joined by the Subscribers generally;- that he was directed by the Committee to propose a Vote of Thanks expressive of the obligations centred, and that his Excellency General Don should be solicited to convey the same to Sir Charles Holloway. He therefore moved: 
. . . that the thanks of this meeting be presented to Major-Gen. Sir Charles Holloway, for the assistance rendered and interest evinced by him, for the success of the Gibraltar Exchange from its commencement to the period of his departure from the Garrison.
The Vote of Thanks was unanimously carried. H.E kindly promised to convey the same to Sir Charles and - after adding a few words, strongly expressive of his intention of continuing his exertions for the promotion of the Public Welfare, and of his hearty wishes for the prosperity of the Commerce of the Place (13) took leave of the Subscribers and returned to Head Quarters.

(1) Wednesday 26th August 1818 - more or less a year and four months since the laying of the foundation stone on April 16th 1817. 

If you feel that you would like to know more about the Exchange, please check the following links:

1817 - Exchange Library of Gibraltar - The Response
1817 - Exchange Library of Gibraltar - The Foundation Stone 
1950 - Exchange Library of Gibraltar - El “Gordo”