The People of Gibraltar
1903 - Sarah Acland - A Visit to Gibraltar - Part 2

The Lecture 
. . . As you arrive at the entrance gate of the grounds of the Mount, some 400 feet above the sea, a characteristic scene is behind you - a steep dusty road with constant traffic, now mule, carts, then soldiers, workmen, traction engines, guns, in unceasing succession. It is quite a relief to get inside the lodge gates into the cool shade of the trees with their undergrowth of brilliant flowers.  
The garden is like a carefully tended wilderness. It is arranged like Solomon’s hanging gardens of old. On one terrace there was a plant of heliotrope hanging down some ten feet. Proceeding up the drive towards the house you pass masses of geraniums, monthly roses, and yellow eyed daisies. This, and the following slide were very difficult to obtain, as orderlies, blue jackets, and messengers of all sorts were constantly passing by.
The Mount - short for Mount Pleasant - was the official residence of the Superintendent of the Gibraltar Dockyard - in other words her brother and therefore her own residence during her stay in Gibraltar. It certainly merited its longer name as it was by all accounts one of the most pleasant residences on the Rock.

The Mount
. . . The only people to be pitied in Gibraltar are the soldiers: not the officers but the men. Their life is a dull one. They are not allowed to leave the Rock; they may not wander about at will as nobody is allowed above the unclimbable fence, some 700 feet up, without a pass. 
The “Unclimbable Fence” which made it illegal to enter the top section of the upper Rock must have been mentioned to her by Colonel William Willoughby Cole Verner (see LINK) who was probably a frequent visitor to Mount Pleasant and a friend of Sarah’s brother. Verner claimed that he went over the supposedly unclimbable fence with no ill effects. A luckless private soldier, who also committed the same offence, was charged with "Neglecting to obey Fortress Orders.

Colonel William Willoughby Cole Verner  ( Sarah Angelina Acland  )
( Courtesy of the Museum of the History of Science - Colour composite by Giles Hudson )
Only occasionally during the summer months do any of them ( the soldiers) get the opportunity of any change or variety, when by courtesy of the Governor of Algeciras the officers obtain leave of him to take parties of selected men over into the Cork Woods for a picnic, with one officer to every thirty men. The privilege is eagerly sought, and the numbers for the picnic are very quickly filled. Everything that is possible is done for the men to interest and amuse them, but it is a trying and dull life. 

British soldiers in the Cork Woods - or La Almoraima to give it its Spanish name  ( 1905 - The Graphic )

The above picture comes with the following caption:

“Throughout the summer these picnics take place in the Cork Woods, up country from Algeciras, each party numbering from 60 to 100 man and they are looked on as a very welcome change by the men, whose only chance it is, during the year, of getting off the Rock. Lunch and tea are taken out as well as all that is required for cricket, football, rounders etc. The peasants get to hear of these parties and come down with their donkeys which they hire out by the hour to the men whose chief amusement during the day is to ride about the picturesque woods or up and down the open space alongside the single-line railway, where the picnics are usually held away from any villages. The donkey-rides afford the drummers and bandboys especially great fun.”
Interesting people often come to the Rock, and whilst we were at Gibraltar last year one of the more interesting personalities was Admiral Evens of the United States navy, Fighting Bob as he was called.

Admiral Robley D Evans

Admiral Evans was the Commander of the American Asiatic Fleet. His flagship the USS Kentucky called at Gibraltar in 1904 on her was home to New York. “Fighting Bob” would return to Gibraltar in 1909 as commander of the American White Fleet. (See LINK)

Ships of the Great White Fleet at Gibraltar Harbour   (1909 )
When sitting in the garden we were constantly startled by firing indeed Gibraltar is the noisiest place that I was ever in; what with guns, bugles, bands, blasting and constant dredging of the harbour, which goes on day and night, there is no quiet. A gun is always fired as a warning that they are going to blast, and as its position was just above the Mount garden, it was often very startling. 
Work on the lengthening of the South Mole (see LINK) and the development of the new Naval Dockyard had begun in the late 19th century and would not be completed until the end of the first decade of the 20th. Tunnels were blasted from one side of the Rock to the other to facilitate the transport of material from quarries on the east side to the appropriate building sites on the other.

Monkey’s Quarry so called because it was below Monkey’s Cave on the east side of the Rock - Most of the stones would be transported via rail through a tunnel to the harbour area on the west side   ( Early 20th century )

The creation of three huge dry docks and a new detached mole was also in full swing as part of the overall improvements to Gibraltar harbour while Acland was in Gibraltar and I am certain her comment was no exaggeration - the Rock must have been one of the noisiest places on earth at the time. 

Construction work on one of the dry dock ( Early 20th century )
There is a regular code of signals for alarms by day and night, or for fire, the number of guns in the later case telling in what district the fire is. I show a slide representing the smoke from the firing of the 100 ton gun, which requires 638 pounds of powder for each shot. The concussion is so great that warning has to be sent round to the houses in the near neighbourhood, and all the pictures have to be taken from the walls and china and crockery placed on the floor.
Only a few of these massive guns were ever built. Two of them were ordered for Gibraltar. One of them cracked during firing trials, the other was never used in anger. Unfortunately I do not have a copy of the slide mentioned by Ms Acland so the ones below will have to do.

Landing and firing a 100 ton gun in Gibraltar ( Possibly late 19th century )

1903 - Sarah Acland - A Visit to Gibraltar - Intro
1903 - Sarah Acland - A Visit to Gibraltar - Part 1
1903 - Sarah Acland - A Visit to Gibraltar - Part 3