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Curtain Walls to Alexandra Battery (La Torre del Tuerto)

Ref: HLFP3/006

The Line Wall

This is part of the curtain wall that faces out to sea and runs all the way south from the South Bastion to New Mole which the Spaniards called La Muralla Real. A bird’s eye view elevations and plans prepared in 1627 by Don Luis Bravo de Acuña shows a number of defensive platforms, towers and gates along this section of wall which extended from the Baluarte de Nuestra Señora del Rosario [site of the present day South Bastion], to the Torre del Tuerto. The pentagonal Baluarte del Duque de Arcos [later re-modelled as North Jumper’s Bastion] was sited in between these two formidable bastions which projected out to sea to dominate the area directly in front of the Arenales Colorados [the ed Sands]. The Line Wall continued all the way to the New Mole by following the natural contours of the bay protected by a number of towers, flanking positions and high defensive walls.

By the 17th Century much of this section of the Line Wall, dating back from Moorish times had fallen into a state of disrepair and had even collapsed in certain parts. In 1662 the engineers Genaro Mariá Aflito and Octaviano Meni proposed plans for new fortifications along the wall, including reinforcing the Torre del Tuerto to protect the New Mole built in 1516.

1627 - Luis Bravo map showing Line wall extending from Red Sands to Torre del Tuerto.

1567 Wyngaerde sketch of the Line Wall along Red Sands and Rosia.

Following the capture of the Rock in August 1704 by Anglo-Dutch forces, the sea wall curtain was hastily repaired, but remained intrinsically the same as the Spanish had left it. It was not until after the Great Siege that the British started paying serious attention to repairing and further fortifying this section of wall. Behind these defences British engineers later constructed a number of terraced artillery placements behind the Line Wall which dominated this strategically important area. These artillery defences became known as the First South District and consisted of the following:

First South District: Ragged Staff Head, Ragged Staff Line Wall – 1st Flank to 3rd Flank, New Saluting Battery, Jumper’s (North) or Eight Gun Battery, Ragged Staff Line Wall – 4th Flank to 8th Flank, Jumper’s (south), Grand Parade, Lady Augusta’s, Prince of Wales Lines, Cumberland’s, Prince Edward’s, New Mole Head, New Mole Fort, Prince William’s, Engineers, 1st Rosia, 2nd Rosia, 3rd Rosia, 4th Rosia, 5th Rosia, 6th Rosia, 7th Rosia, 8th Rosia, 9th, Rosia, 10th Rosia, 11th Rosia, Buena Vista, Europa Pass 1st, Europa Pass 2nd.

Line Wall from South Jumper's Bastion to the New Fort (Thomas James 1771).

Curtain Walls to Alexandra Battery

This section of wall followed the natural curve of the bay from the Red Sands to the New Mole Fort (la Torre del Tuerto) protecting the dockyard. The line here was protected by five small towers or platform up to the natural curve of the bay and then an irregular wall using the rocky cliffs and outcrops which ended at the main defensive position of la Torre del Tuerto. The curve of the bay and the stores of the Straits Fleet [Almacén de la Armada del Estrecho] was protected by a platform known as the Medialuna de los Tres Reyes (identified as D and E in in Luis Bravo de Acuña’s 1627 Plan of Gibraltar).

Following the capture of Gibraltar, the British hastily repaired the heavily deteriorated sections of wall and placed a number of flanking batteries to protect the sandy beach below which they used as a dockyard.

In the 1840’s section of wall between North and South Jumper’s Bastion, which had been irregularly following the natural contours of the land, was re-aligned and brought further forward to its present position.

An 1859 plan of the Gibraltar fortifications and batteries notes that this area consisted of 32 guns along the Cumberland and Flank and New Mole defences. The dockyard was further protected from flanking fire from Ragged Staff Flank and North Jumper’s Batteries.

1782 - Floating Batteries showing Cumberland Flank Battery in the foreground.

The Line Wall looking North from the New Fort. Drawn by T. M. Baynes, 1828.

Cumberland Flank Battery

This battery consisted of two embrasures facing North, below and the right of Cumberland Battery which was built on the higher ground above the Line Wall. In the 1771 Armament List it is referred to as the 3rd Flank of the Ragged Staff Line Wall, mounting two 4-pdrs. The 1773 List shows the same armament but the battery cannot be identified in the 1781 or 1834 Armament List. By 1834 these had been changed to 24pdrs. and one 24-pdr. carronade had been added. The 1826 Plan shows a proposal to remodel the Flank creating a platform with two embrasures facing North and another two facing West across the Bay. This work was eventually carried out in the 1840’s as part of the realignment and improvements of the entire Line Wall proposed by General Sir John Jones.

The 1850 Armament List shows five 32-pdrs. on this Flank but the 1859 proposal recommended four 68-pdrs. which was the armament recorded in the 1863 List. A contemporary photograph taken during the 1860’s shows the 68-pdrs. along four embrasures facing North. The rest of the wall towards the South is shown as infantry firing positions.

On the 21st January 1878 works commenced to reconstruct the battery to take three 80-pdr. RML’s in casemates and these were declared completed by the 31st March 1879. These guns were still in position by 1885, but were replaced in 1892 by 64-pdr. RML’s. These guns were removed five years later.

Under the same reconstruction works carried out in 1878, Cumberland Battery on the small rise above Cumberland Flank became Scud Hill Battery. Only a small part of Scud Hill Battery remains, but the side arms store and magazine used by both batteries on the right-hand side of Cumberland Road still remains.

!859 Fortifications of Gibraltar showing the location of the Cumberland Flank and Dockyard Line Wall to the New Fort.

Part of the Line Wall in the 1960's.

Cumberland Flank Battery 1860's showing four 64-pdrs.

Cumberland Flank Battery 1879 (National Archives).

The 1905 Defence Scheme shows 2 machine-guns allocated to Cumberland Flank. The northernmost casemate was converted into Pill Box during WWII. The original structure was a two storey structure, complete with false painted windows to conceal the various machine-gun positions inside. In 1949, the decision was taken to demolish the whole edifice but by 1954, due to lack of available labour only the second floor had been removed. A memorandum by the City Engineer concluded that the 1949 estimates would not cover for a full demolition. He proposed instead to make good externally and execute the proposed improvement of the road bend originally included in the estimates with the remaining funds. The pill-box proper, or what remained of it, was to be used for civil defence purposes instead. Today, the pill-box has been converted into a private store.

The other casemates have been converted to garages.

Pillbox Rosia Road.

Prince Edward’s Battery

Named after HRH Edward the Duke of Kent who later served as Governor of Gibraltar. The battery, consisting of four embrasures, was located on the Line Wall which stretched from the red-bricked steps to the right of Bayview Terraces up to the Dockyard Clock Tower.

The first recorded armament for this site was in 1771 when four iron 32-pdrs. were recorded. That same year, Colonel William Phillips observed that ‘The Battery is inconvenient to the communication along it. It would be better to form batteries on the rising ground above it’. In 1781, four embrasures are recorded – the guns being removed to HMS Vanguard. In the 1834 List, four 32-pdrs. are recorded but by 1859 the battery had been abandoned.

General Sir John Jones echoed Colonel William Phillip’s observations of 1771 when he recommended that’ the existing embrasures should be built up to heighten the escarp and the guns be moved to the flanking position on the north of the projected barrack [Cumberland Buildings] and to fire over the parapet.’ This led to the reconstruction of the old Cumberland Battery which was renamed Scud Hill Battery following the new works. Under the same recommendations, Jones proposed forming a sea battery of eight guns on the rocky knoll between the New Mole Fort and Rosia.

The removal of the guns at Prince Edward’s Battery allowed for the re-alignment of the Line Wall to facilitate the extension of dockyard and opened up the lower road communications along Rosia Road from the base of Scud Hill all the way to New Mole House. The rising ground opposite the battery would later become the Tower Buildings (now Bayview Terraces) of which only the red-bricked steps remains.

A section of right flank of this battery was removed to provide an exit for vehicular traffic for the New Harbour’s Walk building built parallel to the Line Wall in the early 1990’s.

Section of Curtain Wall (Prince Edward's Battery).

Prince Edward's Battery as seen from the Dockyard.

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.

1608 - Cristobal Rojas detail of the Torre del Tuerto and the New Mole Battery.

Rodney's ships off the New Mole protected by the guns of the New Mole Battery, 1780.

The New Mole byL.T.Serres 1801.

New Mole, Gibraltar., W.J. Bennett, inven. & sculp., Published 31 July, 1807 by J. Gold. The old Spanish sentry lookout post is clearly visible.

Spanish lookout post near site of the demolished New Mole.

Curtain Walls to Alexandra Battery (La Torre del Tuerto) Image