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Prince Albert’s Front, including Main Sally Ports and Zoca Flank including 12.5” RML. Including 9 cannon on north and south platforms

Ref: HLFP3/029

Situated west of the Line Wall and running between the King’s Bastion and Orange Bastion, this curtain wall had previously been part of the medieval defences of Gibraltar, later used since 1785 as the Saluting Battery. The Prince Albert’s Front was constructed in 1842, following the recommendations contained in the report on the Rock’s defences prepared by Major General Sir John Jones. The ultimate intention was to strengthen and also straighten this ancient fortification, aligning it properly and significantly improving the garrison’s seafront defences from any possible threat of amphibious assault. This was still at a period when the sea actually extended to the Line Wall; indeed, one of the medieval towers of this sea defences still survives in the underground garage located to the rear of the Front.

Remains of old Spanish tower under Capurro's garage Line Wall Road.

1753 - James Gabriel Montresor original Line Wall (detail). The position of the old Spanish tower above can be seen on this map.

The new works were named in honour of her Majesty Queen Victoria’s Royal Consort, Prince Albert, with the Front itself to be armed with 68-pdr. cannon. However, due to lack of sufficient funding, the total number of guns, to the number of eighteen, were not mounted on the Front until 1859; six of these being placed on wooden traverse carriages. Most of the construction work carried out along the Line Wall, including Prince Albert’s Front and Zoca Battery, depended on the use of convict labour imprisoned aboard the prison hulk Owen Glendower which had sailed from Chatham for Gibraltar in October 1842 with 200 convicts for work on the development of the Dockyard and the construction of a new breakwater but were soon used in the re-alignment of the Line Wall as well.

Prince Albert’s Front raised above Line Wall Road still preserves two well-preserved Victorian magazines, embrasures for 10 guns as well as a number of banquettes.

1826 - re-alignment of the Line Wall showing original plans for would become Prince Albert's Front and Zoca Flank Battery.

1859 Gibraltar fortifications map (detail).

Prince Albert´s Front, George Washington Wilson 1870´s.

Between the year 1932 and 1933, the American War Memorial was incorporated at the northern end of Prince Albert’s Front. The monument, commemorating the long and successful alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States of America in their naval exploits in the vicinity of Gibraltar during the Great War, was designed by Paul Philippe Cret, a French professor at the University of Pennsylvania on behalf of the American War Monuments Commission. The formal dedication of the memorial took place in October 1937 and is, in itself, an example of the successful incorporation of a relatively recent work into an older existing structure.

American War Memorial 1920's (gibraltartimeline).

In the southern end of the Front there was a flat platform, known as Zoca Flank Battery, on which a 12.5-inch 38-ton RML gun was installed. These latter works were carried out between 22nd August 1877 and 31st July 1879 at a total cost of £4095. At the time, three 80-pdr. RML guns were also mounted on the right curtain wall. The unusual name of the battery comes from the Moorish name for a market place socco, a Spanish corruption of the Arabic souq (or souk). The Spanish period, the area around the battery was used as a meat market with the animals’ offal and discarded carcasses often thrown over the walls into the sea below until the complaints about the smell made it necessary to stop butchery at this location. The rest of the market however, persisted further east and Market Lane records this use. At the end of the socco was a sea-gate known as la Puerta de Mudarra which led to a small wharf – possibly used to bring the animals into the slaughter house above.

Projected reforms of the sea defences between King's Bastion and Orange Bastion - Zoca Flank Bastion (detail), 1862.

1890's - Prince Albert's Front, George Washington Wilson.

Prince Albert's Front 1860´s (unknown).

Prince Albert's Front Ordnance Store Record Plan, 1881.

Prince Albert's Front Ordnance Store Record Plan, 1881.

1920's - Zoca Flank Battery.

During World War II the Anti-Aircraft Searchlight at King's Bastion was moved Zoca Flank and a Gun Laying Radar installed.

In 1969, a Catholic Community Centre was built over Zoca Flank after Father Charles Caruana [later ishop Caruana] raised funds for its construction via the Gibraltar International Song Festival. The construction of the community centre directly over the battery resulted in the encasing of the armoured casemate and 12.5-inch gun at Zoca Flank. In 2010, plans to demolish the community centre and expose the battery were announced but to date, no further action has been taken.

Zoca Flank Battery with the Catholic Community Centre built above.

Casemated vault for the 12.5-inch gun (Fortress of Gibraltar).

The sally ports and lower casemates under the American War Memorial steps have had a number of Government Services usages over the years including the Electricity Department and an AquaGib sewage pump. Plans to develop the site for commercial use is presently being considered. The sally port and casemates under the Zoca Flank have been adapted for entertainment purposes for many years; a discotheque, a party events centre and most recently as a restaurant.

The area along Prince Albert’s Front is currently used as parking spaces for cars and bikes although plans to convert this section of wall into a traffic free bicycle lane and/or ‘Walk the Walk’ project is currently being considered.

American War Memorial including Sally Ports.

Prince Albert's Front magazine.

Prince Albert Front firing steps or banquettes.

Prince Albert’s Front, including Main Sally Ports and Zoca Flank including 12.5” RML. Including 9 cannon on north and south platforms Image