The People of Gibraltar
1861 - Benjamin Browning - Part 1 - Gibraltar

The Rock of Gibraltar     (1861 - Henry Stratton  Bush)

Trawling the net for pictorial material to use on my illustrated essays on the history of Gibraltar has occupied me for many a year - a consequence of which is that as time passes it has become more and more difficult to find suitable material. 

However . . .  in November 2018 I came across an album of photographs compiled by an amateur photographer which included several taken in Gibraltar. Although the photos were not extraordinarily exciting, they were of considerable historical interest as they had apparently been taken as early as 1861 - in other words among the earliest ever taken.

I shared my find with my good friend Alex Panayotti who kindly researched the biographies of the various people we thought might have been responsible for taking the one hundred or so photographs as well as compiling the album. Shortly afterwards we arrived at what we thought was a reasonable account that answered most of our questions and I suggested the time for research was over. I had more than enough to write my essay - or my “novella” as Alex put it.

Unfortunately further research and subsequent conclusions have shown that the original essay did indeed qualify as a work of fiction. 

My first instinct was to publish both the original essay - “fake news” as Alex also put it - as well as the one I feel is the correct version. I have not done so because I suspect it would be counterproductive and the source of endless confusion. Perhaps an even more valid reason is an unwillingness to perpetuate the incorrect interpretations as regards authors, dates and attributions offered by more than one history on pioneering photography and by institutions such as Harvard University and the New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

As usual I have broken the article into chapters to avoid blog-posting difficulties as well as perhaps making a rather dry story somewhat more readable. Whatever the case, I think that show-casing the photographs has made the project worth the effort.

With many thanks to Alex Panayotti - The research is all his, the mistakes are all mine.