Garrison Library, Gibraltar

Every Friday there is a tour of the Garrison Library, which is a historic research library here in the centre of Gibraltar. In fact it is only about five minutes walk from my home, but I have never organised myself to turn up at the appointed time.

However, the other Friday, I rang up to see if a tour would be taking place, and wandered up the street to the library.

Slightly set back from the leafy street somewhat, there is a side coach entrance that leads into the garden, or a rather formal front entrance. I was greeted by the honorary librarian, Lorna Swift, who ushered me through to the library to meet the other tour member. Oh. A very select tour.

We sat on the chairs and sofas in the downstairs library as Lorna gave us a brief summary of the history of the library.

The far end of the downstairs library.

It was founded in 1793, and it was such a popular move that various officers in Gibraltar immediately donated books, so that there were immediately nearly 500 books available. In addition, the committee had also written to England for another 670 books.

The success of the library meant that it quickly became necessary to look for new premises and the committee recommended building a new library. Work started in 1800, and the building, designed by Captain William Fryers, of the Royal Engineers, was completed in 1804.

Captain Fryers.

Main staircase.

Detail of the staircase.

Potential members had to be approved.

Canon, believed to have been used by Drake off Cadiz.

The Upper Reading Room c 1860.

Telescope in the Upper Reading Room.

Closely linked with the history of the library is the history of the Gibraltar Chronicle. A printing press was shipped out from England and the first edition was published in May 1801. The paper had a worldwide scoop with its story of the victory of the battle of Trafalgar and the death of Nelson, and a copy of this story is on display. The library houses issues of the Chronicle dating back to the first publication.

Copy of the Chronicle announcing the victory at the Battle of Trafalgar – in French and English – in 1805.

The price of newspapers was an expensive item in the library’s budget, so the sand glass was used to determine how long members had to read The Times and other newspapers.

Old copies of The Times.

The outside of the library building, the rear patio, which – like the interior – is available for social functions.

Lorna chatting to one of the tour group (he turned up partway through to augment our numbers to three).

Spiral staircase on the rear patio.

Plant flowering in a shady part of the patio.

Abundant orange trees.

The library, from Town Range, at the beginning of the 20th century.

If you are in Gib on a Friday morning, the library is well worth a tour. The tour is free but donations are appreciated.

Photographs with kind permission of the Trustees of the Garrison Library.

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5 comments on “Garrison Library, Gibraltar

  1. I like the Garrison Library photos! Fun to see your photos and "explore" Gibraltar. I haven't been there yet! The Rock! Cool! Kind regards from EAGAN daily photo in Minnesota, USA

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  2. Hi! i am new here in Gib and was researching about the Garrison Library since theres supposed to be a collectors fair today and i came across ur blog! :D i have been looking for a blog abt Gib since before hehe thank u so much for an insider's view of Gib :D

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  3. Thanks for commenting AGEDPA. I didn't realise the link was no longer working so I've taken it down, shame as it was a good site.The only mail I have found for now is gibgarlib@gibtelecom.net. Don't know if that is still current, but if you like, I am happy to wander down on Monday and check out what is happening with their website and email. Do you have a specific timescale, ie is it urgent?

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