Kings Bastion

Tel: +350 200 44777
Email: info@kingsbastion.gov.gi

Welcome to King's Bastion - The History

 


'Defeat of the Floating Batteries at
Gibraltar, September, 1782',
John Singleton Copely, 18th Century.

'This is the first stone of a work which I name the King's Bastion: may it be as gallantly defended, as I know it will be ably executed'

Major General Robert Boyd, 1773

When the King's Bastion was built, it was the most important defensive position of the Rock's westerly defences. Its shape was based on traditional ideas of bastion fortification: it was a large arrow headed construction which projected from the curtain wall into the sea. The land in front of the bastion was reclaimed from the sea much later, at the beginning of the 20th Century as part of the works for Gibraltar's new dockyard, by which time the bastion had changed role. The location of the King's Bastion is significant because it commanded almost the entirety of Gibraltar's western sea defences and nearby anchorages. It housed casemates, which were ideal as barrack accommodation, so it became the ideal command post for defending the attacks of the Franco- Spanish floating batteries on 13th September, 1782.


'Lookout Duty', unknown artist,
19th Century.
See King's Bastion centre left.



King's Bastion Saluting Battery,
mid-20th Century.

The mid to late 19 Century was a relatively peaceful period in Gibraltar's history but the King's Bastion was kept up-to-date, keeping pace with new military technology.

By 1859, twenty five guns were mounted on the bastion. They consisted of seventeen 32 pounders (pdrs), two 10-inch howitzers and six 8-inch smooth bore guns. The most significant alteration was made in 1874 when the embrasures along front faces of the bastion were removed to mount a total of 5 Rifled Muzzle-Loading (RML) guns. By 1878 all five guns were finally in place and remained in commission until 1902. By this time the bastion's many casemates were no longer used as accommodation, but now housed coal stores and one of Gibraltar's first electricity generating stations.

 



View of electricity generating station,
circa 1930.



Exterior facade of the King's Bastion
Power Station, opened in 1961.

The bastion was altered once again in preparation for the 20th Century military conflicts. A number of concrete bunkers were placed on its stone walls and the bastion took on a function as a look out post but also mounted a 6-pdr 6cwt anti-tank gun. In later times of peace, the bastion took on the duties of saluting battery, using four 25-pdrs for the purpose.

In the 1960s the bastion's military use came to an end and was once again modified, to house a new, this time civil, power generating station. The station was designed by local architect Natalio Langdon and was opened in October 1961. It closed down during the 1990s and was eventually demolished in 2005. The original bastion façades were then re-exposed.

Today, the bastion has been totally redeveloped into one of Gibraltar's premiere leisure facilities, the latest lease of life for this important monument.


Reforming the King's Bastion,
circa 1874.



Generating Station demolition,
October 2005.

Works progressing in interior courtyard, November

 


Moving the cannon in October 2007



The New King's Bastion

 



Pictures and text courtesy of the Gibraltar Museum