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North Jumper’s Bastion

Ref: HLFP3/025

Located along the Line Wall Curtain, originally the old medieval defensive walls stretching all the way from the City to Europa Point. North Jumper’s Bastion is sited over the earlier Spanish Baluarte de Santa Cruz [Bastion of the Holy Cross], designed by the Florentine military architect, Giovan Giacomo Paleari Fratino, and completed in 1575. 

Originally, the Baluarte de Santa Cruz had been one of a number of old Moorish towers built along the entire length of the western littoral of the Rock that stretched from North Bastion to Europa Point. This crenellated wall was roughly nine feet thick and twenty-five feet in height. This wall and intermittent towers can clearly be see in Anton van den Wyngaerde 1567 sketches as well as in Cristóbal Rojas’s 1608 map of Gibraltar. Riojas identifies ten such defensive watchtowers protecting the western approaches to the Red Sands area, including a platform for guns which later became the Baluarte de Santa Cruz.

Wyngaerde notes in his sketch that this stretch of curtain wall was where the Castillian nobleman Enrique Pérez de Guzmán, 2nd Count de Niebla drowned in his failed attempt to capture the stronghold of Gibraltar from the Moors in 1436. His body was later recovered by the Moors and placed it in a basket and hung it from one of the castle's turrets. It would remain there until 1462 when Gibraltar was finally captured during Gibraltar´s Eighth Siege. One of Gibraltar's gateways was named after the barcina, or wicker basket, in which Niebla´s body was displayed.

1567 Anton Van Den Wyngaerde. The towers and curtain wall where de Guzman met his end is labelled by the letter O.

Following the capture of the Rock by Anglo-Dutch forces in August 1704, the Baluarte de Santa Cruz was re-named as the Eight Gun Battery. Captain Jonas Moore’s 1732 plan shows the Eight Gun Battery in the form of a redan. In 1785, shortly after the end of the Great Siege (1779 -1783), the bastion was completely rebuilt. It soon became known as Jumper’s Bastion, commemorating Captain Sir William Jumper of HMS Lennox who was reputed to be the first English naval officer to land ashore at the time.

1732 - Capt Jonas Moore´s plan for the Eight Gun Battery.

1782 - View of Grand Attack Lieutenant William Sandby Roberts (detail).

In 1841, General Sir John Jones considered the North Bastion to be far too small to be effective and proposed enlarging it into the present demi-bastion. It consisted of a long flank facing south, armed with guns in casemates and on the ramparts. The face and the northern flank were to be held from musketry embrasures and below were six casemated bombproof barracks, each with sufficient accommodation for 32 men. Several ancillary rooms were also provided in the north and south flanks.

It was envisaged that the bastion would eventually be replaced with a 24-gun flat bastion, following a re-alignment of the curtain wall, but this never materialised. By 1880, all the guns in this bastion had been removed and this is evident in a photograph of the early 1880s taken by George Washington Wilson which shows the empty embrasures.

1860's - North and South Jumper's Bastion.

1870's -George Washington Wilson, South from Jumper's Bastion.

Top and basement plan for North Jumper´s Bastion 1887.

During 1943-44, the North Jumper’s Bastion became the working headquarters for Commander Lionel Crabb [known as Buster Crabb] and his team of Royal Navy frogmen. This unit consisted of a team of specialised divers who were responsible for disposing of limpet mines attached by members of the elite Italian Decima Flottiglia MAS commando swimming Unit to the hulls of Allied ships in the Bay.

Commander Lionel Crabb before a dive in the Bay of Gibraltar.

Members of the Decima Mas team sent to sink Allied shipping in the Bay of Gibraltar.

In 1964, the bastion became part of the emergency accommodation made available from repatriated locals who had been residing in the Campo de Gibraltar and had been forced to leave their homes by the Franco regime. The same premises are now used as clubhouses for local dancers, Taekwondo and a weights gym but these premises are known to suffer from occasional flooding in severe storms. Meanwhile, a popular sea-food restaurant was constructed on its upper southern platform.

Jumpers Bastion and Nissen huts in the 1950's.

Jumpers Bastion embrasure and firing step facing South.

North Jumper's Bastion North facing firing steps.

North Jumpers Bastion magazine.

North Jumper's Bastion casemate.

North Jumper’s Bastion Image