The People of Gibraltar
1939 - The Road-Book - Alleys, Steps, Gullys and Ramps

Richard Pitaluga and Anthony Aquilera

Because of its past - and Gibraltar has had more than its fair share of history - many of Rock's older streets, lane's and alleyways often come in two flavours - the original more or less colloquial Spanish one and the official British version. Both sets of street names tend to be both descriptive and interesting and several attempts have been made over the years to compare and match both.

The main problem has always been the need to trust on memory - either ones own or by the picking of other people's brains. There are few official documents listing the Spanish versions and many are indeed purely colloquial and were never used by the authorities - either Spanish or British.  Some of the English names must also stem originally from colloquial descriptions with the added curiosity that the use of the English word 'Ramp' in the name of a street is apparently unique to Gibraltar.

Also both official and colloquial names of places and streets have had a nasty habit of changing over time. That of Gibraltar's main square - which may find its origins as far back as the 14th century during the Rock's Moorish heyday - has had at the very least fourteen different names at the last count.

One of the first attempts to match both sets of names was carried out in the late 19th century by the Rev Stewart Patterson (see LINK) chaplain to the British forces on the Rock at the time. Local historians Dorothy Ellicott and Tito Benady - and more recently Tito Vallejo - have also given it a go.

But in 1939, with World War II looming in the background, a semi-official booklet was published by the local printers Beanland, Malin and Co. Ltd (see LINK)  which identified the streets of Gibraltar by their official British names, where they could be found, and their equivalent colloquial or Spanish names where possible. The booklet is probably unique in that it also lists the Spanish versions alphabetically with their corresponding English alternatives. As shown on the cover of the booklet it was meant "for general use but particularly for the use of the Civil Defence Organisation"

Front page of the booklet  ( From a second copy sent to me by Anthony Aquilera ) 

I have never been a collector of memorabilia - but sometimes I wish I had. And this is a case in point. Richard Pitaluga, a Civil Defence Officer in Gibraltar during the 1950s and 60s was issued with his copy of the Road-Book and held on to it. It is now one of his son's most prized possessions. With acknowledgements to Richard Pitaluga junior digital copies of the various pages of the booklet are shown below. It is an interesting addition to a long and honest line of Gibraltar street name collecting.