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South Jumpers Bastion

Ref: HLFP3/034

The South Jumper’s Bastion, also referred to as Little Jumper’s Bastion, is thought to have been located over a Spanish era Seagate situated to the south of the North Jumper’s Bastion. However, Bravo de Acuña 1627 Plan of Gibraltar shows that this Seagate was in fact much closer to the main Baluarte del Duque de Arcos [later re-modelled as North Jumper’s Bastion] and may possibly have been situated at the very end of the present promenade where the exercise machines are located today. To the south of this Seagate was a fountain [la Fuente del Chorrudo] which was later moved back to become Jumper’s Well. This would place the present South Jumper’s Bastion as a defensive tower or platform just to the south of this fountain which is exactly where we find South Jumper’s Bastion in relation to Jumper’s Well today.

This platform, the first of five which stretched all the way to Cumberland Flank Battery, had once been the site of a much older Moorish tower built along the entire length of the western littoral of the Rock that stretched from North Bastion to Europa Point. These defences, built by order of the Sultan of Morocco, Abu Al-Hasan 'Ali ibn 'Othman.  It was a crenellated wall about nine feet thick and twenty-five feet in height. The old Moorish 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, one of which stood on the site of the present South Jumper’s Bastion.

1567 - Wyngaerde's sketches of the curtain wall in the South.

The plans prepared in 1627 by Don Luis Bravo de Acuña shows a number of defensive platforms, including the Seagate just to the South of the triangular shaped Baluarte de Santa Cruz [Bastion of the Holy Cross] which the British would later re-construct and re-name North Jumper’s Bastion. Juan Caballero’s 1779 map shows the platform as overlooking a small watering jetty [muelle de aguada] on its left hand-side. The Seagate would have been protected from possible attack by flanking fire from South Bastion in the North and La Torre del Tuerto further South. Closer support came from the Baluarte de Santa Cruz on its immediate right and the defensive towers along its left flank.

By the mid-16th Century much of the Line Wall along the Red Sands had fallen into disrepair and some sections had even collapsed. Such was the state of neglect that in 1540, a corsair raid led by the renegade slave Caramani infiltrated the town through the southern district of La Turba, sacking the city and taking many captives. After the raid, the southern defences were eventually repaired and protection to the actual city was further bolstered by the construction of Charles V Wall. 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 which had been built in 1516.

1627 - Luis Bravo de Acuña ahowing positions of the Spanish platforms later reconstructed as North and South Jumper's Bastions.

In 1704, Gibraltar was captured by a combined Anglo-Dutch force. The two platforms along the Red Sands were renamed after Captain William Jumper of HMS Lennox who had been the first British Officer ashore. The British repaired most of the Line Wall during the 1730’s, but the wall 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 the Western sea-walls.

Re-construction of South Jumper’s Bastion commenced in 1785 and consisted of a flat face parallel to the line wall forming a small flat bastion designed to be held by musketry fire only. In military terms it would be more correct to refer to it as a platform rather than an actual bastion, being designed primarily to provide musketry fire. Accommodation was provided on two levels only within the well of the bastion.

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

In 1841, following recommendations by General Sir John Jones proposed the enlargement of the North Jumper’s Bastion to convert it into a demi-bastion with a long flank to be armed with guns but for the face and right flank to be for musketry only. Jones also recommended the construction of accommodation blocks within the bastions – these being the only point along this portion of the line where space for casemates could be provided. The scarp was to be 34 feet high at every point. Work began in 1845 and was almost complete by 1847.

The casemates here were constructed on two levels and on two sides only as opposed to the three levels and sides on the much larger North Jumper’s Bastion. The accommodation provided in the southern bastion, therefore, was much more modest than that at North Jumper’s Bastion which provided for 4 Officers and 150 men.

Little Jumpers Bastion Record Plan No1, 1844.

Little Jumpers Bastion Record Plan No2 showing Basement, 1st Floor and Top plan

Little Jumpers Bastion attached plan photograph.

In 1864, the casemates were re-appropriated as Married Soldiers Quarters. Record plans of Little Jumper’s Bastion drawn in 1886 show the accommodation provided for four families consisting of a kitchen on the ground floor and a single living room on the first floor. The old firing loop-holes can clearly be seen in these plans, providing protected musketry fire for eight men on both the left and right flank.

Line Wall and South Jumper's Bastion from the proposed Chapel Battery circa 1860's.

South Jumper's Bastion  from North Jumper's Bastion showing infantry firing loopholes from basement and 1st floor levels.

In October 1942, a Bofors 40 mm gun was installed behind Ragged Staff Flank, the emplacement was completed on the 12th June 1942. It was soon joined by a Twin Z projector and this armament remained until December 1944, having been taken over by 451 LAA battery on the 7th February 1944 when the LAA defences were reduced to one eighteen-gun battery at which time the armament was one mobile 40 mm Bofors gun and predictor and one Twin Z Projector. The equipment was removed in December 1944 although the site was maintained.

In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s a number of Gibraltarian families were temporarily accommodated at both North and South Jumper’s Bastion pending the completion of the new housing estates for the returning civilian population. In the late 1960’s a number of Gibraltarian repatriates residing in La Linea were also temporarily housed there as a result of the closure of the frontier by the Spanish dictator, General Franco. The first floor was later occupied by the St. John’s Ambulance and the courtyard quarters became a carpentry. However, the site was prone to severe flooding during stormy weather and by the mid-1970’s the whole of South Jumper’s was abandoned.

Abandoned state of South Jumper's Bastion (Defence of Gibraltar).

South Jumper's Bastion well.

South Jumper's Bastion Casemates.

In 2017, after years of neglect, the Government of Gibraltar announced that South Jumper’s was to be converted into use as the offices and studios of the Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation.  The move was expected to take place during the last quarter of 2019 but construction delays and the disruption caused by the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic delayed completion by a year. The new GBC premises consists of three levels built above the existing two subterranean casemates which have been preserved as have the exterior walls surrounding the new building.

South Jumper's Bastion platform prior to construction works.

South Jumper's Bastion interior preservation works.

South Jumper's Bastion exterior face.

Architectural plans for the conservation of South Jumper's Bastion within the proposed new GBC premises.

Artistic impression of new GBC premises at South Jumper's Bastion.

South Jumpers Bastion Image