Gibtrip – 1 – naval history and *ready*

Pippa and I have acquired some new blogpals, partly through our move to wordpress.

Some of you have expressed an interest in Gibraltar and, as I assume (possibly wrongly) that you don’t want to wade through the previous 300+ posts, I thought I would provide a series of summary posts on Gib. (Apols to those who may have read some of this before, but to be honest even I forget what I have written).

The trouble with Gib is, that for such a small place, with 30,000 people, there is always too much happening, so it can be quite difficult to keep up with important current affairs while talking about the past, or vice versa.

But, as Burke and Santayana said (linky here on Clouds for those of you who like that sort of thing) – those who don’t know history …..

The truth is, you can never understand anywhere without understanding its history. And the history of the immediate neighbours as well, because that is key to understanding the strange mix that makes up present-day Gibraltar, ie Spain and Morocco in particular, but other Mediterranean countries too.

OK, after that pretentious intro, here’s the personal one. My father served in the RN during WW2 and spent some time in Gib. If he wasn’t in Gib he was in Malta. He loved the Mediterranean and Gib and always wanted to come back but never made it. We thought it was a good feng shui move to come here and, maybe that way, somehow his wish will have been fulfilled.

For that reason, you will see that the RN features strongly in my Gib history posts. Not just for that though, without naval history, Gib wouldn’t have British heritage.

There really is more to Gibraltar than monkeys, a ride in a cable car, and duty-free tobacco, spirits and perfume.

With each pic, I’ve included the original month of the post, so the archives have more info should you have time and inclination on your hands. I know, I should have done click ‘here’ – but I’m still trying to sort the imported blogs. (I’ll do it later). ETA, links now included.

The naval history tour has to start with Admiral Nelson. This statue is just outside the city walls at Southport/Referendum Gates, and opposite the Trafalgar Cemetery. (Original pic on link here July 2007)

Admiral Nelson

The Royal Navy at the Trafalgar Day Cemetery, October 2007 (Original pic on post here October 2007). This one was taken by my partner as I was in Spain at the time.

Trafalgar Day 2007

This is one of two memorial stones that always receives a wreath every year, a naval officer, Lieut William Forster, who died of wounds received at the Battle of Trafalgar. (Original post in November 2007 here)


Moving rather more up-to-date although, still very much in the past now, sadly, is the Ark Royal. A former flagship of the RN, she was still working in November 2008 when this photo was taken (link here in November 2008), but her decommissioning was brought forward from 2016 to 2011. She probably deserves a post in her own right :(

Open Day at the Ark Royal in Gib

Here is the famous 100 ton gun. About which you can read more in January 2009 here. It’s an extremely cheap place to visit at Napier Battery, Rosia. I think it is a quid for non-Gib residents, and it is jam-packed with history. It’s not sophisticated, but it doesn’t need to be. It is, however, impressive. It is a late 19th century gun built by Vickers Armstrong in Newcastle for the Italian and Royal Navies, and is one of the only two that remain – the other one is in Malta.

100 ton gun - ready and waiting

This incidentally is my non-entry for the WordPress photo word of the week ‘ready.’ This gun was ready to shoot right round from the Bay of Algeciras out to sea in the Straits to defend Gibraltar.

Royal Naval History would hardly be complete without mentioning the (in)famous Royal Marines. I daresay they are used to worse conditions than a little Gibraltar rain – they marched extremely rapidly too :D (Original photo here in March 2009)

Poor, wet Royal Marines exercising Freedom of the City

Let’s end up where we started with Admiral Nelson, this time, on Trafalgar Day 2009, link here. The RN hands out cute little souvenir booklets which probably say the same thing every year, but still, they are nice. The trouble is, they always sing Eternal Father at this wretched service, so I stand there for five minutes, take photos and then get misty eyes. I wonder if current serving RN staff are as emotive about this hymn these days as my father was? Circumstances are different so hopefully they are not.

Order of service

Anyway, that will have to do for a general view of some Gib naval history without writing a thesis.


6 comments on “Gibtrip – 1 – naval history and *ready*

    • ha! it wasn’t so much for people who have been reading my blogs for ages as much as for others who may not feel like ploughing back through the years. Although, always worth re-posting in a different way maybe?


  1. Yes, the recent history of Gibraltar is fascinating, please do write more. I look forward to atleast parts 2 and 3.

    My connection with Gib, according to a book written about my family by some mad woman (not a best seller unsurprisingly), has my Moorish forbears rocking up (sorry) in about 700 AD, staying for about 800 years then getting roped into the Armada gig and ending up stranded off the coast of Eire, where they stayed until my dad moved to the UK.

    I’m hopeful one day I’ll be living there.

    Blu L


    • Thanks Blu. Wow. What amazing family history. Fancy being able to even vaguely trace such glamorous ancestry and so far back. The way you wrote the last part, I now have visions of your family surviving on a raft off the Irish coast for a good many years :D

      I thought you were pretty definite about coming??


  2. this is fascinating. thanks for the heads-up on your post. i think i will have to dig through your old posts after all. never knew much about Gibraltar, other than where it sits on a map. so thanks for the info – and the stories. one day when i have time (haha. ok, when i make the time) i will come digging over at blogger, provided they have left your blog intact.
    k, that’s it for blogging for me today. thanks again :)


  3. I was just too lazy to put the links in yesterday, I’ll add them soon(ish).

    On the old blog, I had some links to some of the posts I thought were worth a read, for whatever reason, funny, typical Spanish life, photos (!) or just strange stories. Specially for you I’ll add a page with those links :).

    The old blog is intact for now, but you might as well stick to this one. It imported the comments on here too. I’m in the midst of tidying it up and recategorising and all that, so that might make a page as well. WordPress is too organised for the likes of me.

    I’ve nearly finished catching up with your blog (kept the naughty dog away from the keyboard ;)) but yours only has just over a year’s worth. Suppose I’ll have to start on your other blog now. :)


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