The People of Gibraltar
2019 - Patios of Flat Bastion Road - Gibraltar

Patio Escuela - Patio Francisquin - Patio de la Banana
Patio Carteros - Patio de las Tejas Verdes
Patio de las Palmeras - Patio Baca - Patio Bado
Patio de las Siete Chimeneas - Patio Bishu
El Patio - Patio Corredores - Patio Largo - Patio de la Viuda

(1627 - Detail of a plan of Gibraltar - Luis Bravo de Acuña)

Flat Bastion - known to the Spanish as the Baluarte de Santiago was probably built in the 16th century. It was attached to and lay south of the then newly created Charles V Wall. Pre-1704 the road leading to and through it from the town was known as la Senda del Pastor.

Today the road continues to take its name from its military origins - Flat Bastion Road - although during the late 19th century local residents with their usual inclination to rename officially designated names - rechristened it La Cuesta Mistebon.

According to one local historian a blacksmith named Mr Bourne owned a forge on this road in the 1870s - hence “Mr Bourne” giving way to the local Llanito patois equivalent of "Mistebon".  According to others however, the name comes from a boy’s school on Flat Bastion Road run by  . . . .  yes, indeed, somebody called Mr. Bourne.

Our Mr Bourne (?)

Section of plan showing part of an area between Prince Edward’s and Flat Bastion Roads

However, the history of this school - as shown on the plan - does not seem to favour the second theory as it describes the “once upon a time” existence of a “Girls and infants” Public School which was, incidentally, one of the earliest available for the children of civilian residents. It was a non-denominational establishment set up in 1832 as a free “Public” school. 

The building itself was provided by the Government free of charge.  Also given the prevailing political leanings at the time  among Gibraltar's well-off merchant class where charitable donations towards the costs of public services were much to be preferred to any sort of compulsory taxation - the school was funded by voluntary contributions. It was run by a Committee set up by the Governor Sir William Houston and was closed in the 1920s. In other words it was not a boy's school and there is no mention of a Mr. Bourne.

In fact the best theory as regards the colloquial name for Flat Bastion is that it refers to a well connected and well established coach builder by the name of Thomas Bourn - without the “e” - with workshops in Flat Bastion Road.

Patio Escuela

Not long after its closure it seems to have been conveniently adapted for private accommodation which - appropriately - became known as el Patio Escuela.

The Patios of Flat Bastion Road   (Adapted from an early 20th century postcard)

Patio Escuela had three floors with numerous rooms that were converted into flats. Opposite this building there was once an old ruin called La Casa Rota which included an opening to a World War II shelter.

Somewhat incongruously the building once had a large doorway which has long since been bricked up. It was designed to allow cannons to be moved into Raglan’s Battery which was constructed in the 1850s some twenty years after the school had opened. It was named after Baron Raglan - aka Lord Fitzroy aka James Henry Somerset.  

This was the officer in charge during the Crimean War and was responsible for sundry fiascos - including that of the celebrated “Charge of the Light Brigade” - and was duly pilloried after the War.  I cannot see any connection with Gibraltar and cannot understand why the battery was named after him.

An unusual shot as it shows five cannons - all other photographs of this battery, and there are quite a few, only show two - The school must have been just over the wall on the left  (From an album by an anonymous collector - 1860s)

Patio Francisquin - Patio de la Banana

South of the school and separated from it by Morello’s Ramp is another group of buildings, the first and most southerly would become Patio Francisquin and the next one Patio de la Banana.

Possibly either Morello’s or Gowland’s Ramp      (1882 - Kate E. Bough)

Francisquin is almost certainly a Llanito derivative of Francis King - but the connection between this gentleman and the patio eludes me. Patio de las Banana was probably named after a banana tree that grew in its courtyard. The patio had a shrine to the Virgin Mary built into the Rockface. It was placed there by the Vinet family after their young son fell down some nearbly steps and killed himself

Patio Francisquin

Patio de las Bananas on the left

Patio Carteros - Patio de las Tejas Verdes

On the other side of the road opposite Francisquin there are two more - Patio Carteros where the residents were mainly postmen and Patio de las Tejas Verdes so called because of the green tiles on its roof, tediously known today both officially and boringly as Godley Mansions. Perhaps more curiously according to a resident, No 51 which was close by was never given a patio name although that is what it was.

Patio Carteros on the right 

Patio Tejas Verdes on the left

Patio de las Palmeras

Looking north, the school terrace overlooked yet another distinctive building - El Patio de las Palmeras.

The palm tree on the right on this mid to later 19th century photograph may very well be the one that gave its name to the patio   (J.H. Mann - detail)

The town from Flat Bastion with the patio’s palm tree in the foreground   (Early 20th century Postcard)


Patio Baca

At 47 Flat Bastion Road there was yet another patio. It occupied a large building which was just opposite el Patio de la Palmera. Its name - Patio Baca - possibly derives from a particular individual associated with the building - or the narrow lane behind it which was and is still known as Baca’s Passage.

Patio Baca ( 2019 - Anthony Aguilera)

Patio Bado

Just along the road in No. 58 was Patio Bado. According to several people who once lived there it stood right opposite No 57 - a hospital that looked after people suffering from tuberculosis inevitably known locally as “los Tuberculosos” - and No 59 which was used to house hospital staff and the families of chronically ill patients. The hospital was a forerunner of the King George V  - or the Kay Gee Vee (KGV) as it was invariably referred. It was later used to house Gibraltarians who had been forced to flee from their houses in La Línea at the outbreak of the Civil War.

Patio de las Siete Chimeneas

In what must have been a relentlessly overcrowded area, el Patio de las Palmeras overlooked yet another of Flat Bastion’s many patios. This one could easily be identified by its seven identical chimneys - el Patio de las Siete Chimeneas. 

El Patio de las Siete Chimeneas - Photo probably taken from the terrace of Patio Escuela

Patio Bishua

Continuing north of Patio Baca was Patio Bishua named after a well known gharry driver who lived there. His real name was Luis Martinez but he was known locally as Besure - or more commonly as Bishua. There are sundry versions as to why he ended up with this nickname. My guess is that he must have been in the habit of including the phrase “be sure” when talking to his customers.

Another patio that might just - but only just - qualify as a Flat Bastion patio, was a rather complex one found in Wilson’s Ramp, a narrow winding affair that connects Prince Edward’s Road to the west and Flat Bastion to the east where it more or less becomes one with Gowland’s Ramp. 

El Patio 

According to somebody who was brought up in the place, it consisted of two connecting patios, one on the north side and one to the south with their western flats offering great view across the bay. The patio was apparently “nameless” and was known simply as “el Patio”. It housed around nine families several of which had lived there for several generations. There was no running water until the mid 1970s and a single water-pump in one of the courtyards was used to keep the indoor drinking “tinajas” full - as well as water required for washing purposes. A cleaning rota allowed neighbours to take it in turns to scrub the patio and the steps leading up to it. At the time of writing the patio buildings still exist although they are now mostly empty and condemned.

Patio Corredores - Patio Largo - Patio de la Viuda

The “nameless” patio stood above another one in Prince Edward’s Road which made up for its neighbour’s namelessness by having more than one name. In the main it was called Patio Corredores but some residents with long memories suggest that it was often also referred to as Patio Largo and Patio de la Viuda. 

These two photos make it easy to understand its alternative names of “Corredores” and “Largo” - but not of course Patio de las Viudas.

Its address was 63 Prince Edwards Road, near 40 Steps and close to the historic Gavino’s Asylum - known locally as el ‘Ospicio’. In 1848 the Governor of Gibraltar - Sir Robert Wilson - agreed to a 99 year lease for property No. 743 in Prince Edward's Road to the Trustees of the late Juan Gavino.  Don Juan had left a large part of his wealth to charity and two years later this property would become Gavino's Asylum for Paupers and Orphans. According to an 1888 Garrison Library publication called "A Popular History of Gibraltar  . . “ Gavino's Asylum maintained 28 aged paupers and 18 orphans.

(1879 - From an album compiled by Captain Samuel Buckle)

2019 - Patios of Gibraltar - Introduction

2019 - Patios of Flat Bastion Road - Gibraltar
2019 - Patios of Lynch’s and Turnbull’s Lane - Gibraltar
2019 - Patio Arengo - Gibraltar
2019 - Downtown Patios - Gibraltar
2019 - Rosia Patios - Gibraltar
2019 - Patios de la Buena Vista - Gibraltar
2019 - Castle Steps Patios and Beyond - Gibraltar
2019 - Upper Town Patios - Gibraltar
2019 - Patio Schammarri - Gibraltar
2019 - The Patios of Fraser’s Ramp - Gibraltar
2019 - Other Patios - Gibraltar
2019 - Patio Schott 1 - Gibraltar
2019 - Patio Schott 2 - Gibraltar

2019 - Los Patios de Gibraltar - A Disappearing Way of Life