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Montagu Curtain including Boyd’s Gate

Ref: HLFP3/022

Montagu Curtain was originally a part the Sea Wall of the City which extended from the Old Mole, at intervals, to Europa Point. During the medieval period, this line of fortifications, constructed by the Moors, had square towers placed at short regular intervals along the curtain walls, but was modernised by the Spanish in the 16th century, by the introduction of platforms and bastion defences. Two such towers can be seen in James Gabriel Montresor’s 1753 Survey Plan of Gibraltar. The map also reveals of the existence of a tunnel leading from the sea used by the Royal Navy to transport supplies to its old nearby Navy Yard near the Casemates.

Montagu Curtain and tunnel leading to Navy Yard, James Gabriel Montresor map 1753.

This part of the curtain wall was defended by the Navy Yard Battery which appears in both the 1771 and 1773 Armaments List with four 18-pdrs. and two 4-pdrs. Spilsbury records how the men of HMS Panther were employed in making a battery here from the lower deck guns of the 60-gun ship during the Great Siege. Spilsbury further reported on the 16th October 1779 that the battery had to be watched to prevent people from walking on the platforms for they were made on clay and when wet tended to sink into the ground. A strange observation considering the battery had to take the weight of both the guns and carriages. Drinkwater also referred to this battery saying that in August 1779 a battery for 22 guns was being erected in the Navy Yard as a resource in case it became necessary to lay up the ships. The 1779 Armament was two iron 4-pdrs and four iron 18-pdrs. In 1781, the battery was reported as three 18-pdrs, two brass and one iron. No further mention of this battery is found in any subsequent Armament List.

HMS Panther and HMS Monarch engaging the Mars at Saint Eustacius.

In 1792, the old Montagu sea-gate appears to have been recommissioned by order of Governor Lieutenant-General Sir Robert Boyd complemented by an elaborate exterior rendering crowned with a keystone bearing the initials GR3 and the year 1792 on the keystone’s outward face and an inscription bearing the words ‘Lieut General Robert Boyd Governor 1792’ on the ground facing side. The gate still contains the original 1792 heavily reinforced door which includes, as in a number of other similar defensive gates, a much smaller pedestrian door which made it easy to control all access into the fortress.

Inscription below Boyd Gate keystone.

In 1903, an archway leading from Fish Market Place to Irish Town was opened right through the left flank of Montagu Curtain as part of a drive to ease pedestrian and vehicular access into the town. On the Irish Town facing side of the archway this accomplishment was commemorated by the erection of a keystone bearing the initials GSC [Gibraltar Sanitary Commission] followed by the numerical 1903, indicating the year of construction.

Gibraltar Sanitary Commission archway completed in 1903.

Montagu Curtain Gibraltar archway.

Montagu Curtain including Boyd’s Gate Image