The following quotes are taken from an article published anonymously in 1811 in the Tradesman or Commercial Magazine under the title of an Interesting Account of the Present State of Gibraltar.
Ragged Staff - We entered, says our journalist, by a narrow draw-bridge, that communicates from the ramparts with a flight of wooden steps, or circular stair-case erected on the beach, called Ragged Staff; (see LINK) this is the principal entrance into the garrison from the harbour; the other entrances are at two moles.
Ragged Staff ( 1870 )
Bayside and Landport - The communication by land is over a narrow road, just wide enough for two carriages to pass, and is about five hundred feet in length. The sea washes up to it on one side, and on the other is a pond of still water, reaching close to the rock. This road is mined, and, if it were destroyed, the garrison could not be approached but by passing through the tide.
The Innundation - 'communication by land is over a narrow road ' ( 1880s )
The Galleries - The rock is about three miles in circumference, it is long and narrow, and not accessible on the eastern side ; the north end boldly rises seventeen hundred feet, which is its highest elevation, and on the extreme height is a large mortar, called the " Rock-mortar." Here the famous galleries or excavations are formed. These are chambers containing guns, extending from two to four hundred yards.
King's Bastion - The King's Bastion, at the water's edge, about the centre of the rock, is another fine work, erected by General Boyd, previous to the siege ; it was before this battery, that the celebrated floating batteries of the Spaniards were burnt by the red-hot shot of the garrison. General Boyd is buried within it; and casemates for a great number of soldiers, are enclosed by it.
Near this bastion is mounted a brass mortar, weighing eighty-seven hundred pounds ; and there are upwards of four hundred pieces of artillery mounted on the rock, their being scarcely any part of it un fortified that could receive a gun.
King's Bastion in the distance ( 1844 - George Lothian Law ) (See LINK)
The Town - The town is not extensive, the houses are necessarily built low, and are in general very small. There is one principal street, badly and disgracefully paved, and dirty ; many less ones branch off on each side, gradually winding up on the side of the rock, where the wooden houses, or wooden sheds, overtop each other.
The Locals - The inhabitants, or residents, are computed at about twelve thousand souls; of which two-thirds are Spaniards and Barbary Jews ; besides a mixture of all nations, and of all languages. The troops now amount to about five thousand, whose abodes are scattered on various parts of the rock, in confined barracks, or bomb-proof case mates.
A very small portion of the rock presents a cultivated surface, as it has not any natural soil ; it affords, therefore, not any sort of pasture, or scarcely anything like food for the inhabitants. The supply of most necessaries is furnished chiefly from the African coast, and now the intercourse is uninterrupted from Spain. Salted provisions, pulse, potatoes, cheese, and butter, are brought from England.
The glacis is now converted into gardens, and vegetation is so rapid, that cabbages, cauliflowers, and other esculents, are grown throughout the year. There are also a few small gardens between the protuberances of the rock, which principally belong to officers ; and we here and there see the almond and orange in bloom. A few goats are kept for the sake of their milk, they find their sustenance among the herbage on the rock . . .
Imports and Supplies -The communication with Spain being open, the natives come in daily with their asses and mules, loaded with bread, poultry, &c. &c. They drive ,in their cattle and some sheep, neither of them of good quality. The beef is not fat, and is so small, that a quarter often weighs not more than forty or fifty pounds.
The sheep are also lean and small ; they cost about two dollars and a half each, and weigh fourteen pounds per quarter; the wool is generally black, and always coarse, and with the akin is seldom worth more than a shilling. The pork is very good. Goats and kids are often eaten; a kid may be bought for about half a dollar. Bread is plentiful, and costs about two-pence-halfpenny per pound ; it is not however of very good quality, either in flavour or appearance.
Loading or unloading at Waterport ( Unknown )
Wheat is brought from all parts of the Mediterranean, by Greeks, who come here on speculation. The sailors have an interest in the sale of the cargo; and if the market be disadvantageous, the men get nothing for the voyage, as they are hired for a venture, and their recompense arises from the profit on the cargo.
Fish may be had in abundance, but the fisher men do not like the restraint they are placed under, of taking out a licence ; and this has been imposed on them in consequence of a vast smuggling trade that was carried on with the coast of Spain, during the war.
Smuggling - (see LINK) Tobacco was an article extensively dealt in ; the boats used to go armed, and the Spaniards came to the shore in bodies of two hundred men at a time, to meet the adventurers, who were generally paid in dollars for their commodities ; but Lord Collingwood and General Dalrymple put an end to this illicit traffic, and occasioned a serious loss to some individuals who had stocks of tobacco on hand, as well as by the capture of their loaded boats. The Brazil, or black tobacco, is the quality consumed on the Mediterranean coasts ; and the white, or Virginia, in the other parts of Spain.
Smugglers being chased by the authorities with Gibraltar in the distance ( Unknown )
Heating - Firing is supplied from England; the Duke of Newcastle furnishing the troops with pit-coal, free of expense, excepting the freight ; and, as 'the issues to them are liberal, and often exceed their wants, the surplus is sufficient for the use of the inhabitants, who purchase this article at about twelve or fourteen dollars per chaldron.
Dockyard, Victualling and Water Supply - Toward the southern end of the rock is the dock-yard, where the men of war can only be partially repaired, as there is no dry dock. I could not avoid remarking, over the entrance, a board with a public notice written on it, in English, and an attempted translation into, a broken language between Italian and Spanish; reflecting, at least, no grammatical credit on the author, whether he were a government clerk or not. The victualling department is near the yard ; it is a small building, but a magnificent one is begun, the cost of which is estimated at fifteen thousand pounds sterling.
No dry docks in 1811. But three were built later in the early twentieth century. The one in the photo is No.1, the largest.
Here are also some extensive tanks, excavated in the rock ; they are to be filled from the water that accumulates in the rainy season ; and are calculated to contain a sufficient supply for the navy for twelve months. They are divided into compartments, and the expense of making them is calculated to have been not less than forty thousand pounds sterling.
Europa Point - Europa Point, which forms the south end of the rock, and has its name from being the extreme point of land in Europe, is a flat space, covered with rough fragments, and inequalities of the rock, about six hundred feet in diameter ; and can scarcely ever be approached by boats, owing to the many small projecting rocks which run a considerable distance into the sea.
Europa point before the lighthouse was built ( 1797 - G.B. Fisher ) (See LINK)
St George's Tower - O'Hara's Folly - On the top of the rock, near this place, General O'Hara, (see LINK) while governor, erected a signal tower, called St. George's Tower, (now O'Hara's Folly.) It was intended to supersede the use of another signal, at some distance from it ; but a violent storm, accompanied by lightning, shattered and nearly threw down the whole fabric, soon after it was built ; and it is supposed that this effect was produced in consequence of the stone work being fastened by bars of iron.
O'Hara's Folly after it had been damaged by lightning ( 1844 - George Lothian Hall )
Yellow Fever (see LINK) - It was to Europa Point that the inhabitants retired, in the year 1802, while the plague raged with such violence, as to carry off up wards of seven thousand people belonging to the place. The want of sufficient and efficacious medical assistance was much felt, and the approach of the winter season was the only powerful aid that destroyed the contagion.
It was remarkable that the porters, who are natives of Barbary, should in general have escaped the fever : they used to attend on the sick and the dead, without contracting the disease. At this period, a duck or a fowl cost two dollars; and turkeys, tea or fourteen dollars each.
Signal-house - The rock, from its great height, affords numerous points of observation. The signal-house, in the centre of the summit, commands the Atlantic, beyond the coast of Tangiers, so that not a ship can enter the straights unobserved. The levelled space on which it stands is about thirty feet diameter ; and from it a ship of the line has a very diminutive appearance.
The prospect is altogether delightful ; toward the Mediterranean we distinctly see the mountains beyond Malaga, called the " Sierra Nieva," from the circumstance of their being always covered with snow : they are distant, in a straight line, about one hundred and twenty miles.
Signal Hill ( 1883 - Sir J.M. Adye ) (See LINK)
The Campo - The towns, on the sea- coast, are numerous, and the country around is very picturesque. It is bounded on all sides, as far as the eye can reach, by lofty mountains ; the valleys and plains, here and there, interspersed with verdure and trees. On the summit of one of the mountains, near the town of St. Roque, is a spot called the " Queen of Spain's chair," her Catholic Majesty having sat there to witness the expected surrender of the garrison in 1782.
Gibraltar from the Queen of Spain's Chair ( Unknown )
The town of St. Roque is distant about eight miles, and is a dirty place, like other Spanish towns.
San Roque (1870s - George Washington Wilson - Detail ) (See LINK)
Between this and Gibraltar are the Spanish lines, which bound a tract of light 'sandy soil, called the neutral ground, about one mile in breadth, and three to four in length. They are protected at each end by two large forts, called Fort St. Philip, on the west, and Fort Barbary, on the east; on the walls are a number of watch towers, and within the line are extensive barracks, or ranges of huts for the troops, and one small wooden gateway which leads into Spain. In time of war it is not uncommon for the officers of each nation to have intercourse with each other occasionally on the neutral ground, until formal notice be given that it is to cease.
The zig-zag approaches which were thrown up here by twenty thousand of the enemy in one night, are still visible, though nearly filled with sand. Human bones are often discovered in abundance on this spot.
The main Spanish Lines on the left. In 1810, during the Peninsular War, the Spanish Lines were destroyed by British engineers with the consent of the Spanish authorities. ( 1779 - Juan Caballero )
From the signal-house are also distinctly seen the fortifications of Ceuta; which are, from their great elevation on a rock, deemed impregnable, especially to the Moors. It is connected with Barbary by an isthmus of sand, but the town is thinly peopled : it has a good harbour, and seems to be a second Gibraltar.
It is remarkable that since I have been here, the captain of the English packet , from Falmouth, actually mistook Ceuta for this place, and anchored there some hours, until he was blown oft" by a gale of wind. This small portion of the African coast presents majestic mountains rising amid the clouds, particularly one called " Apes' Hill," so named from the vast number of apes which inhabit it.
Immediately opposite to the town of Gibraltar is Algeziras, a sea port belonging to Spain, containing about twelve thousand inhabitants. It is defended by small rocks which are strongly fortified ; and is a rendezvous for ships of war and gun-boats which so much annoy the straights in war time.
St Michael's Cave - Some excellent serpentine roads are cut on the western side of the rock, one of which leads to St. Michael's cavern, about half an hour's gentle walk up the hill. This cavern is of an unknown depth, many attempts have, from time to time, been made to find its bottom, but without success.
O'Hara's Challenge - General O'Hara, it is said, descended considerably lower than any one before him, and, thinking that no person would venture to the depth he did, left a purse with money on the spot, which was to belong to whoever would fetch it ; a soldier went down and brought it up, but no one has succeeded him to the same distance.
It is a beautiful stalactitic cave, and opens by a chasm about eight feet high and four wide, leading into a gloomy sloping chamber, vaulted and supported, as it were, by a large pillar, naturally formed in the centre, and looking like the trunk' of a decayed tree, from the base of which the descent commences. In the front of the entrance is a small space of ground, neatly le velled and turfed, for the accommodation of blockheads who decide points of honour!
Devil's Gap, Queen's Gate and Healy's Mortar - We pass, in coming here, through a chasm sunk in the rock about twenty feet deep, called the Devil's Gap; it leads to a guard-house at the "Queen's Gate," which prevents improper access to the signal-house ; and near this is a very large mortar curiously formed in the rock, commanding the dock-yard, and fired by a train. (see LINK)
Healey Mortar, created in 1771
There is another cavern of smaller dimensions toward the north end of the rock ; here are also a variety of stalactites, and some spar running in fine veins through a dark-grey stone, containing a kind of diamond. It is a small bright substance, which easily separates into crystals, and they are often sought for the purpose of making trifling ornaments, which are more curious than valuable. The petrifactions are worked into candlesticks, inkstands, seals, &c. &c. in great variety.
Gardens, Flowers and Tyrwhitt's Farm - The west side of the rock is covered here and there with the palm tree and the palmetta. The golden striped aloe and the prickly pear also grow luxuriantly amid the crevices. The geranium, the rose, the broom, the asphodel, &c. are in flower ; and a row of poplars at Tyrwhitt's Farm, are now in foliage. These trees and shrubs afford shelter to a few partridges; but a standing garrison order forbids the use of the fowling-piece, so that they are never molested.
Apes - Monkeys also find refuge among them ; there is a herd of upwards of two hundred of those animals, some of which are very large. They are seldom caught, and arc daring enough to deprive a sentinel of his meal now and then, which they will convey from his box with their usual dexterity. They are very susceptible of the alteration of weather, and, when the wind is from the south or the west, they are not to be seen ; as they invariably change their abode, and shelter themselves on that side towards which it does not blow.
Churches - As so many of the inhabitants are composed of Spaniards, they are allowed the exercise of their religion, and have a large church appropriated to their use. A convent, which of course formerly be longed to them, is the residence of the governor; it is a spacious building, and contains some good rooms, but the church attached to it is small and gloomy. It is now undergoing repair ; the roof is ornamented with rose work in the Grecian style, and on the walls are tablets to the memory of General Boyd, General O'Hara; and to the Honourable Captain Paget, of the Sybille; which is an elegant sculpture.
Libraries - There are three libraries, one exclusively for the use of the officers of the garrison, (see LINK) another a circulating one for the use of the inhabitants, and a third is a subscription one, to which no person belongs but by ballot ; it is liberally conducted, and has a reading-room, where strangers are admitted on the introduction of a member.
It is well provided with good books in the various languages, and receives from England the Morning Chronicle, the Star, Cobbett's Register, Lloyd's List, and a price current; a bust of Cicero graces the head of the room, and there is a collection of a great variety of lava ; each specimen having a label on it describing the spot from which it was taken. Spanish Gazettes, such as they are, are likewise received.
Chronicle - A paper is published here every Saturday, entitled the " Gibraltar Chronicle ;" it has been established nearly four years, is well printed, but conducted by a Frenchman ! (see LINK)
1826 version of the Gibraltar Chronicle
Theatre - A wretched theatre and more wretched Spanish actors and musicians are now amusing us. It is a most shabby place, and seldom resorted to, excepting when the governor attends it, but for the purpose of ridiculing the performers and smoking Cigars.
They have brought out a piece, representing the escape of the Marquis de la Roinana, with the Spanish soldiers from Zealand. The bills of the performance are handsomely printed, on various coloured silk, in Spanish and broken English : one of the performers:, on his benefit night, concluded his address with a wish " to have the attendance of Ladis and Gentilmin." They dress gaudily ; and their scenery, stage, and tout-ensemble, are scarcely better than a Bartholomew-fair exhibition.
Refugees - There are now in the town upwards of two hundred French fugitives from Spain, and many more are on board of a ship in the harbour, who are not permitted to land. Indeed, they would hardly find a habitation that could shelter them, and it is wonderful to see the number of wooden huts scattered on the rock, and still more the manner in which the people are already crowded into them.
Security - Sometimes, owing to their height, they are drenched with rain, and enveloped in those mists which obscure the signal-house for days together. The greatest precaution is taken with respect to the admission of any person into the garrison, who is not in a naval or military capacity.
Every resident is obliged to be provided with a card of registry, which is granted every six months ; without this, he is liable to inconvenience, when he may wish to pass the different gates, and, at night, it is required that no one appears in the streets without a light.
The restraint on the movements of the inhabitants extends so far as not to allow them to rest their arms on, or lean over the walls of the ramparts, or to walk over every part of the rock without a particular permission; and it is attended with difficulty sometimes to obtain leave to see the galleries.
The Law - The power of the governor extends, not only to the military, but to the civil departments ; and his exercise of authority has at times, been such, as not to harmonize with the inclination of the inhabitants. The soldier claims notice and respect which the people are not disposed to grant him ; and, as the garrison is not in a state of siege, the former often feel indignant when they are not permitted to relax from what they may consider, too strict regulations. The consequence is, that each party is often involved in a quarrel; and, I understand, that there are appeals at this moment lying before the privy- council for decision.