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The Camp Bay Quarry

Ref: Info Point

Further Information

In 1871, Captain Augustus Phillimore made the proposal that a new naval dockyard should be constructed in Gibraltar. His scheme lay dormant in the Admiralty for 22 years before it was put to Parliament in 1895. The original idea was estimated to cost around 1.5 million pounds, however, in 1896 Salisbury’s Government decided on a much more ambitious and costly scheme that included three, instead of one, dry-docks, a Commercial Mole and a Detached Mole that tripled the original estimate.

Captain Augustus Phillimore.

British Empire Dockyards and Ports, 1909- Gibraltar (Dock Book, June 1909).

At first the rubble was transported by sea which meant that transport was slow, dangerous and severely restricted during adverse weather conditions. Much of the extension of the South Mole had been carried out with rock quarried at Camp Bay and loaded onto barges via a jetty.

Direct access to the site was obtained in 1880 with two small tunnels excavated; No. 1 tunnel under Parson’s Lodge Battery and No. 2 in Camp Bay itself. The stone quarried here could now be transported my means of a meter-gauge railway especially constructed for the purpose. When disused, the railway tunnels subsequently provided road access to the hitherto inaccessible Camp Bay.

Tunnel No. 1.

Tunnel No. 2.

Rock Crusher at Camp Bay.

The later phases of the harbour needed more fill than what the Camp Bay quarries could provide and so rubble for the detached breakwater and the northern mole was obtained from other sites – quarries immediately west of Catalan Bay Village and the North Front.1



Puerto Basura Quarry to the east of Devil’s Tower Road.

Men at work at Monkey Quarry.

In 1898, the Admiralty Tunnel drove through the entire width of the Rock (1,053 yards) in an east-west direction to reach Sandy Bay and the various quarries situated on the east side. A railway system similar to that employed at Camp Bay connected the Dockyard through the tunnel and round via Catalan Bay and the base of the North Front to Waterport and along the Queensway all the way to the Dockyard thus completing the circuit.

Not all the stone was obtained locally. The bulk of the limestone ashlar, for quay walls, docks and buildings, was obtained ready dressed from Spain, being brought by railway to the town of Algeciras and then transported by boat across the Bay of Gibraltar to the works. Granite used to floor the docks and to construct copings and landings steps were mostly imported from Cornwall.

Construction of the dry docks.

Around 2,200 men were employed in the Admiralty works with most of the manual labour provided by Spanish labourers who streamed across the frontier daily from the rapidly expanding shanty town of La Linea or by ferry from Algeciras. These workers received a weekly wage of 51 pts (£1 at the 1898 rate of exchange).2

The economic activity of these works and the subsequent employment opportunities afforded by the new HMS Dockyard rejuvenated the entire economy of the Campo de Gibraltar.



Construction of the dry docks.

Ceremony for laying the final block at King Edward VII dry dock.

The Camp Bay Quarry Image