The People of Gibraltar
1897 - The Dockyard Clock Tower - Insignificant Changes

On the 4th of December 1897 the above picture appeared on The Graphic. The text below it reads as follows:
One of the first steps preparatory to the construction of the proposed docks at Gibraltar was the demolition of the old clock tower, which has told the time to the inhabitants of the Rock for over a hundred years. Together with the tower, all the old Government buildings in its immediate neighbourhood will be destroyed. . . . 
Many years later the question arose - why are there two towers in this picture? From a 21st century perspective only two proper towers have ever existed throughout the long history of the New Mole. (See LINK

The first one, la Torre del Tuerto, was  a medieval tower of unknown origin which formed part of the defences of the New Mole. However the tower is known to have been completely destroyed in an explosion during the Anglo-Dutch assault on the Rock in 1704.  (See LINK

La Torre del Tuerto - bottom right - in action during the 17th century Battle of Gibraltar )
( 1607 - Adam Willaers ) (See LINK)

The small text reads "Remains of an ancient lighthouse supposed to be built by the Carthaginians" - in fact these were the remains of La Torre del Tuerto after it had been demolished by an explosion in 1704  during the Anglo-Dutch assault  ( 1740- William Test for William Skinner )   (See LINK)

I don't know when the next tower was built but it was almost certainly of British origin. Pictorial evidence, however,  is few and far between. Most early 19th century pictures show various towers and structures in the vicinity but none of them appear to be precursors of the tower being demolished in the Graphic picture. 

Two tower-like objects in the dockyard area   ( 1808 - John Carr - Detail  )

A dockyard building - or church - sporting towers similar to the one in the 1808 picture   ( 1828 - F. Benucci  - detail )  (See LINK

A view along the Line Wall looking south shows an ambiguous looking tower in approximately the right place   ( 1828 - Unknown )

There is, however a photograph as well as an etching - which was probably done using a photograph - that do show the appropriate Dockyard Clock Tower.

The New Mole and clock tower    ( 1860s - A Guesdon - Detail )  (See LINK)

The New Mole and clock tower    ( 1860s - Francis Frith - Detail )  (See LINK

During the late 19th century a massive program of improvements costing vast amounts of money were carried out on the harbour. The work included the lengthening of the South Mole, the building of a detached one between it and the North Mole and - crucially - the construction of three very large dry docks. The "1860"s British tower was in the way of these docks and it had to go.

The photograph shows preparations underway for the demolition of the "1860s" clock - its cupola has already been removed and it would seem that both it and its clock - or clocks were duly recycled.

A comparison between the tower shown in the photograph above and that being demolished in the Graphic article. It suggest that both are one and the same "1860"s tower

In 1897, the "New" clock tower was completed a short distance south-west of the "1860" version which it replaced. In looks it was quite similar to the older one but was taller giving it a rather svelte overall appearance. The features that made it easy to confuse with the older one was that it inherited its cupola and dark faced clocks from the now completely demolished "1860"s tower. 

Part of the text at the bottom of the photo reads as follows -"No 1 a Dock Admiralty Works 19-1-98 - From road beside the drawbridge looking towards Clock Tower"

Sign on the Clock Tower giving the year of completion

Over the years the new clock tower underwent several relatively insignificant changes. During the early decades of the 20th century and even before the three Gibraltar dry docks had been completed, the dark clock faces were replaced by white ones.

New tower with white faced clocks in the foreground with the dry docks still a work in progress

In 2006 the top stone finial with its weather vane was removed as it has suffered some damage and was considered unsafe. Eight years later repairs were carried out and the Tower recovered its original appearance.

Tower building in the mid 20th century and the Dockyard Tower Clock it took its name from. The stone filial was as yet undamaged

The new tower over the years - from left to tight, 1898, 1904, 2006 and 2014

The "new" tower was officially known as the Stotherd Tower probably in honour of Major General Richard Hugh Stotherd, major general of the Royal Engineers and director general of the ordinance survey. He must have had a finger in every pie associated with the construction of the new dockyard - perhaps even the clock tower itself. I am not sure if this name was ever used in official documents but of one thing I am certain of - the locals never called it that. For them it would always be known as the Dockyard Clock Tower.

With thanks to Lionel Ulger and Joseph Ballester who first found the Graphic image and deduced that there must have been at least three distinct clock towers in the dockyard area at one time or the other.