From the days of the Arab conquest in the eighth century right up to the modern era, the Rock of Gibraltar and its immediately obvious position as a geological fortress has fascinated many of its conquerors and rulers. It has been painted endlessly by artists from every conceivable angle, the whole process being repeated all over again with the advent of photography.
Some with the necessary power and financial clout have taken the process a step further and have ordered their minions to recreate the whole place in miniature - in essence a three dimensional representation of the place that they admired - they wanted a model of the Rock.
A painting of the real Rock of Gibraltar ( 1830s - J.M.Van Braam - Detail )
The Moorish Model
In 1333, Abu-l-hasan, (see LINK) accompanied by his son Abu Malik Abd al-Walid sailed across the Straits to Algeciras together with a large army and set about organising what would later be known as the 3rd Siege of Gibraltar. His troops soon occupied the atarazana, Ferdinand IV's pride and joy. (see LINK) He then encircled the place, took control of the heights immediately behind the castle that Abd al Mu'min had built two hundred odd years previously and proceeded to batter it into rubble. By 1333 it was all over and Gibraltar was once more a Moorish stronghold.
Moorish Castle and surrounding area ( Unknown )
In 1348, Abu Inan Faris succeeded his father and inherited Gibraltar. Interestingly he commissioned the great Berber scholar and traveller, Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta, better known as Ibn Battuta, (see LINK) to write an account of his travels. For some reason, Ibn Battuta dictated his story - known as the Rihla - to the poet Ibn Juzayy al-Kalbi rather than write it himself.
According to Ibn Juzayy, Abu Inan seems to have had a peculiar affection for the Rock. To him it was more than just an overseas possession of considerable strategic value. Like Abd-al-Mu'min (see LINK) before him he seems to have been enthralled by its shape, its unusual character and its striking position at the head of its Bay. Not altogether surprisingly he ordered his craftsmen to construct a model of the Rock so that he could feast his eyes on it when back in Fez. According to Ibn Juzayy,
(Abu Inan's) concern for the affairs of Jabal reached such lengths that he gave orders for the construction of a model of it, on which he had represented models of its walls, towers, citadels, gates, arsenal, mosques, munitions-stores and corn granaries, together with the shape of the Jabal itself and the adjacent Red Mound. The model was executed in the palace precincts; it was a marvellous likeness and a piece of fine craftsmanship. Anybody who has seen the Jabal and then this copy will recognise its merits.
Unfortunately there is no record of what happened to this 'marvellous' model - I can only presume that it was destroyed in come future Moorish war. But one cannot help but wonder whether perhaps . . . perhaps . . .
I have no idea as regards who ordered this one to be constructed. What evidence exists suggests that it dates from the late 17th century and is of Spanish origin. At the time of writing the model is on view at the Museo Naval of Madrid It is made of oak, metal and paper and seems to have weathered quite well over the years. The museum dates it as c1704 but states that it was constructed before the Anglo-Dutch take-over of Gibraltar. Late 17th century seems about right.
The Spanish Model (Late 17th century - Museo Naval de Madrid )
In places almost a caricature of the Rock it is nevertheless an impressive historical document which gives the viewer an idea of what Spanish Gibraltar once looked like.
The north front showing well tended gardens on the isthmus, and what appears to be fully flooded inundations but may have just been a marshy area. La Puerta de España (see LINK) and la Puerta de Mar (see LINK) are clearly shown in the bottom right ( Photo - Tito Vallejo )
A close up showing the old mole and its Puerta de Mar as well as the bridge over the moat leading to the Puerta de España. The long buildings in the Barcina area just behind the Sea gate are the old Atarazana or dockyard buildings ( Photo - Tito Vallejo )
La Turba or the main part of the old town. The tall impressive looking sea walls were actually quite useless. They were both in a state of disrepair and completely out of date ( Photo - Tito Vallejo )
The South showing the New Mole. The Line Wall gate on left may represent the very old Puerta Morisca de Corral de Fez (see LINK) ( Photo - Tito Vallejo )
The New Mole viewed looking down from the top of the Rock. The square building to the left of the New Mole is la Torre del Tuerto ( Photo - Tito Vallejo )
Europa point seen from the east. The building with a spire on the extreme right is the Chapel of Our Lady of Europa. The tall building on the upper step or los tarfes altos - today's Windmill Hill - may be the enigmatic Torre de los Genoveses which no longer exists. The equally enigmatic but still extant Nuns' Well (see LINK) could be one of the other buildings shown below it ( Photo - Tito Vallejo )
The entire Rock from the east showing unconvincing wind-blown sand slopes rather too far to the north than they should be. Catalan Bay (see LINK) is the first beach on the right. The cave may represent one of those used by temporary fishermen at the time the model was created. The next beach is probably Sandy Bay. (See LINK) The structure at the top is almost certainly la Capilla de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. What might be interpreted as a wall is shown on the area known as la Silleta just off centre top (see LINK) ( Photo - TitoVallejo )
The Great Siege Model
The 1841 Guide to Woolwich by John Grant includes the following entry:
A model, constructed in 1781, by the command of the Right Honourable George Lord Viscount Townshend, Master General of the Ordnance, representing the Figure and Situation of the Peninsula Fortifications of Gibraltar, end the new additions to the works us they stood in 1770, with the Spanish Forts and line across the Isthmus. Scale 100 feet to 1 inch. The sea in this splendid model is represented by glass, and has a very fine effect. Executed by John Byres.
All of which makes me wonder how Byres and whoever gave him a hand ever found the time - from 1779 to 1783 Gibraltar was undergoing what quite rightly came to be known as The Great Siege. Colonel William Green, (see LINK) Gibraltar's chief engineer at the time must have had some sort of input into its construction as well as it was he who was mostly responsible for 'new additions to the works'. The model has since been moved to the Royal Engineers Museum in Chatham.
Northern section of the model of the Rock in the Royal Engineers Museum in Chatham. On the left the once marshy ground on the isthmus is shown as an 'Inundation'. It was excavated in 1735 and reduced access to the town via Landport Gate to a narrow causeway. The Moorish Castle as well as the the walls of the keep and its south-east gate, Bab-al-fath, are also visible.
The south of the town looking east. The defensive Line wall stretches right up to South Bastion with Flat Bastion further up the hill. Phillip II wall and the unmistakeable zigzags of Charles the V are also visible. The 'inverted coma' like markings on the bottom right may have been meant to represent the aqueduct that brought water into the city from its source further to the south
The Great Siege Model in its "new" case in Chatham
The Gibraltar Museum and Woolwich Models
From 1861 to 1865, Lieutenant Charles Warren of the Royal Engineers surveyed the Rock of Gibraltar using trigonometry and with the support of Major-General Frome he created two, 8 metres long scale models of the Rock. One of these was kept at Woolwich, the other, which survives, is on display at Gibraltar Museum. Both were coloured after nature by Captain B.A. Branfill of 86th Regiment 1868.
Sir Charles Warren ( 1890s - Herbert Rose Barraud )
These models not only depicted the shape of The Rock and harbour but also every possible road and building. From 1865 to 1867, he worked in Chatham as an assistant instructor in surveying at the School of Military Engineering. It must have given him the chance to compare the 1781 model with his own work.
A general view of the model showing the isthmus with the cemetery and the Bayside causeway. Note extra water and smaller causeway on the east side of the inundation.
The Castle and the old town. Below is the small Waterport Wharf protected by the canons of the Devil's Tongue on the right. The Water gate leading from the wharf into the market can also be seen.
King's Bastion, centre bottom dominates, but Commercial Square just to the left of it with Aaron Cardozo's well-known house (see LINK) on its west side and the Exchange and Commercial Library (see LINK) opposite are clearly and accurately depicted. Further to the right are the gardens of the Convent, the Governor's residence ( Photo - Jim Crone )
The northern section of the Rock as viewed from the east. Devil's Tower Road hugs the bottom of the cliff face and the Devil's Tower itself appears as a tiny protrusion on the bottom right. The continuing track bottom left leads to Catalan Bay
The Rock from the east showing its enormous wind-blown sand slopes. The beach on the left is Sandy Bay. Catalan Bay is just off the photograph on the right.
The Prince Charles Model
When Queen Elizabeth II came to Gibraltar in 1954 together with her husband there was an added bonus - they were about to meet up with their children Charles and Anne which they had not seen for six months. The Prince was six years old, Anne was three. What better way to celebrate the visit of the heir to the throne than to present him with 70 feet of model railway tracks running through and around a miniature Rock of Gibraltar.
I am unsure as to who exactly instigated all this this but the scale model was designed by Trevor Sideway a REME man doing his national service on the Rock. It was built by the REME Garrison Workshop and was put on display so that the locals could have a good look at it before being installed in the Admiral's office in the Naval Dockyard and it disappearing from their view forever.
Once Charles had been instructed on the finer points of how to crash model trains the contraption was then shipped back to the UK and was installed in the School Room at Buckingham palace for a number of years I think that it is currently stored at Windsor castle. Poor Princess Anne.
The "Prince Charles" Model