New Mole Fort (Torre del Tuerto)
Link to Alexandra Battery (New Mole Fort - La Torre del Tuerto)
New Mole Head Battery
This was a semi-circular battery at the head of the New Mole which began to be extended, according to Portillo in 1519. According to Portillo the length of the mole did not exceed 30 metres at this time. Cristobal Riojas’s 1608 map of Gibraltar shows a small fort with three guns at the head of the mole supported by the Torre del Tuerto just behind. The fort appears in a sketch of the New Mole by Luis Bravo de Acuña’s and supported three guns in casemates facing North and two embrasures for a further two guns above facing East and West respectively. Bravo’s sketch also shows two sentry watchtowers at the head of the fort which was enclosed by a courtyard accessed by a door which led into a second courtyard which enclosed a tall, pentagonal tower – the Torre del Tuerto. Bravo proposed demolishing this rectangular fort and replacing it by a bastion further back from its present position. The bastion would include a curtain wall which was to be flanked by two demi-bastions which would have been much more effective at resisting an attack but less so as an artillery platform. In the event, Bravo’s proposal was never implemented.
Nevertheless, when Phillip IV visited Gibraltar in 1624 he ordered the renewal of the Torre del Tuerto as well as the enlargement of the Old Mole and the renewal of works on the New Mole. Works on these projects started in 1619 and were completed by 1658 with a final length of 110 metres. The New Mole was now protected by a pentagonal fort at the head of the extended mole which the Spanish christened el Baluartillo de la Cabeza del Muelle Nuevo.
The New Mole Head Battery been the first point of action following the landing by Captains Hicks and Jumper in August 1704 and subsequent capture of the old fort of the Torre del Tuerto. The Torre del Tuerto was destroyed when the retreating Spanish garrison blew up a mine, but the New Mole Head fortification was captured intact. However, according to Colonel William Skinner in his 1758 Report to the Ordnance Board, the actual landing took place somewhere between Eight Gun Battery (North Jumper’s Bastion) and the New Mole, climbing over the ten foot wall without opposition before approaching the fort from the rear. The surprised defenders fled into a powder magazine which when fired on, blew up the tower. The New Mole Head Battery was not affected by this explosion.
In 1725, Governor Richard Kane reported three guns mounted on this battery.
The 1744 Armament List records two iron 32-pdrs. In 1771, there were two 32-pdrs and one 18-pdr. and two empty embrasures. During the Great Siege, the New Mole Head Battery would have been employed against the scores of Spanish gun and mortar boats that frequently sailed close the sea defences to fire firing indiscriminately into the town. It also provided effective flanking fire during the attack of the Floating Batteries launched in 1782. The New Mole Head Battery is shown in W. J. Bennett’s sketch of the New Mole dated to 1807. Also visible in the same sketch is a Spanish look out post which is all that remains of the Spanish works today.
In 1834, three 32-pdrs. are recorded here but by 1859 the battery had been decommissioned. By then the mole had been extended by a further 400 metres with Alexandria Battery identified as the main defensive position for the New Mole.
At the end of the 19th Century the expansion of the Naval Yard, including the construction of three large graving-docks in the vicinity of the old New Mole Head Battery, resulted in the destruction of the octagonal fort. Only the old Spanish sentry box marking the location of the New Mole Head Battery remains.