We I interrupt the endless medical bulletins to talk about something that doesn’t involve drugs and broken bones.
For any readers who don’t know, I live in a tiny flat, a kennel flat no less as it is only about big enough for Pippa, let alone me, Partner and Snowy. It is the bottom end of the market, partly because I didn’t want to extend ourselves, and partly because they tend to be easier to sell.
It is however, prime real estate within the city walls and within the Jewish quarter. The Jewish community is always a safe spec when buying property, not that I realised we were in Jewry when I bought.
Be all that as it may, and financial investments apart, the main attraction of our flat is location x 3 because we are so central and near to everything. OK everything is near in Gib terms, but everything is very near to us.
Over the road is the library, meeting rooms, lecture theatre and a home to performing arts.
John Mackintosh Hall was opened in 1964 and is a typically disgusting piece of 60s architecture. All around it are nice twee buildings so I found this ugly piece of work quite discordant and dismissed it as typical 60s modernism, rip down the old and put up something new and unsightly.
Originally it was the old military Grand Stores but the building was destroyed by an explosion in 1951.
Naval armament carrier RFA Bedenham had tied up at Gun Wharf but during the unloading of some depth charges, one ignited causing a fire which spread to the Bedenham resulting in a violent explosion. Thirteen people were killed, and not only were the Grand Stores damaged, the two cathedrals and The Convent (governor’s residence) also suffered from the explosion.
But it was to be more than ten years later before the new hall was built and opened on the site.
Originally designed for the youth of Gibraltar, it was opened with a library, theatre/conference hall, gym, hall for exhibitions and other public functions, and a wing for higher education.
Now, the library has been extended to take up the whole east wing and it is open from 9.30-7.30 from Mon – Fri. I use one of the small meeting rooms for my block committees (room hire is free for non-profit groups) and often wander over to attend lectures or visit exhibitions.
This particular exhibition was to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the hall, and in my healthy two-legged state last month I wandered over to have a look.
Why John Mack and who was he?
Well, he’d died well before the hall was opened. Or even built in fact.
He was your typical old-style philanthropist, born in Victorian times and continuing with the traditional values of well-off merchants of the times.
Mackintosh was born in 1865 to a Scottish father and Gibraltarian mother whose family was also of Scottish descent.
He went to work in the City (of London) and came back to Gib, where he was successful in trade, shipping, and the coal industry amongst others.
At the same time, he was approachable, popular, and public-spirited, supporting worthwhile causes.
Mackintosh wanted to help old people, sick people and poor people in Gibraltar, providing homes for old and poor people and funding an extra wing to the former colonial hospital in Gib. He was also interested in young people, and established a trust to promote cultural links with the UK and help with the education of young Gibraltarians.
While the old colonial hospital may have gone, along with the 76-bed wing that bore his name, his generous legacy to Gib is still remembered with the central John Mackintosh Square named after him and also known as The Piazza, and the topic of this exhibition – the John Mack Hall.
The first room of the exhibition was pretty dull.
About the best exhibit was the lilies.
But, as the history unfolded, there were some great moments from Gib history.
And to end with, JMH has paintings dotted all over, a cool patio, a refreshing fountain, plants and trees. It’s a popular venue, and I hope it’s in keeping with the ideals of JM.
Source for info: the brochure produced by HM Government of Gibraltar.
On a totally different subject, I received an offer from a good blogging friend who was willing to write a guest post over on Pippadogblog about my recent accident. It’s told from the dogs’ points of view as DDI Pip undertakes an investigation. Makes a light-hearted change and is a refreshing take on my over-dramatisation. Here is Misery’s Mishap.