THE ROCK - CRUTCHETT’S BATTERIES
June 13, 2019
These are situated on the site of the north-facing outer Moorish and Spanish city walls and are known as 6th and 7th Crutchett’s Batteries, forming part of the Castle Batteries although, originally, they were referred to as Britannia or Britain’s Battery.
The name of Crutchett, which also refers to the adjacent Crutchett’s Ramp, is said to have originated from a John Crutchett who had property in this northern part of the upper City in the 18th century. Francis Carter, the renowned traveller and historian, stayed in the latter’s house, during his short sojourn on the Rock in the 1770s. He wrote that ‘no part of the garrison can be pleasanter, or more retired from the noise of drums and soldiers, than Crouchet’s (sic) house.’ Another possible theory for the derivation of the name is that it referred to the crushetts or lime kilns that were located nearby.
Guns were mounted at this position and were in action during the siege of 1726-27 with improvements made to it prior to the Great Siege (1779-1783) when there was a line of six embrasures for guns which could fire east and flanking the King’s Lines. There were three internal traverses, one with an embrasure sweeping the rear of the Grand Battery and flanking the face of the cavalier on the North Bastion.
CUMBERLAND & SCUD HILL BATTERIES
These batteries were situated in the area of Rosia Road, overlooked by Cumberland Road, although the original structures are difficult to identify in the present day. This is due to fact that its northern end was converted into a World War Two pillbox with its casemates presently utilised as garages; furthermore, in 1939, a four-storey block of flats, known as Harrington Buildings, was constructed over the obsolete Scud Hill Battery. Only a small part of this battery is now visible, although the side arm stores and magazine still stand.
Prior to its construction, there existed an earlier Spanish fortification on this site, known as El Baluarte or Media Luna de los Reyes [Bastion or Lunette of the Three Kings]. With the strengthening of the sea wall defences, as proposed by Sir John Jones in 1841, a flank battery was established facing northwest and named in honour of the fifth son of King George III - Prince Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland. In 1868, Colonel W. F. Jervois recommended the building of a heavy battery on this site and the mounting of four 80-pdr heavy RML guns. Work commenced on 2nd September 1877 with emplacement of these guns on a reconstructed position with shell and cartridge stores in a bombproof traverse in the centre. Work was completed by 25th March 1880 as a cost of £708 it was later re-named Scud Hill Battery in 1877, following its reconstruction.
Further north, on the sea wall, there was also a Cumberland Flank Battery with four 68-pdr RMLs in casemates built there in 1863. These guns were to flank the curtain wall and the barrier of rocks that stood in the sea, now the site of the New Harbours Complex. On 21st January 1878, three embrasures for 80-pdr RMLs were built within the casemates; they were still in position in 1885, when they were replaced by 64-pdr RMLs.
The Defensible Barracks, located at Europa Flats, was designed by Major General Sir John Jones as part of the recommendations proposed in his report of 1841. Sir John had served on the Rock from 1798 to 1802 and knew the place well together with all its inherent problems and shortcomings. He had fought in the Peninsular War and later published a journal on the various sieges that took place in Spain. His proposals formed part of a general work on the defences of the United Kingdom and of Gibraltar, which he visited in January 1841, to study the situation.
The Barracks was superbly built with limestone masonry with beautifully cut voussoirs (wedge-shaped or tapered stones used to construct arches) and ashlar stones. It was surrounded by a limited perimeter of defensible walls which could resist small arms fire and even a commando attack. The front was protected by rifle fire through loopholes in the barrack block and at the rear, there was a caponier (a covered passage) projecting from the middle of each exposed wall, with the latter also pierced by very small loopholes. The Barracks could accommodate up to 100 soldiers in four rectangular galleries which had access to verandahs at each end of these rooms.
In the latter part of the 19th century, a New Defensible or Bombproof Barracks was constructed in front of the existing building, on the curtain wall between 1st Europa Right Flank and Woodford’s Left Flank. This had a massive wall protecting the accommodation casemates from bombardment from the sea.
In the 1960s, these buildings were converted for use as a school for services families – St. Christopher’s. Years later, in 2015, after having been transferred to the Government of Gibraltar, it became the University of Gibraltar with a purpose-built covered atrium connecting the two buildings.
DETACHED MOLE BATTERY
The Detached Mole is one of a trio of breakwaters that provide protection to Gibraltar’s harbour. It is 800 metres in length having lighthouses at each of its ends. It was constructed between 1888 and 1901 and is made up of concrete blocks each weighing 28 tons, with the wall itself having been built upon a foundation of rubble stones deposited by divers.
The Detached Mole Battery was sited on the south end and in 1904 it mounted two 12-pdr QF guns. During the Second World War, there was one 6-pdr, twin mounting at each end of the Mole with two 3-inch 20 cwt. anti-aircraft guns and two Bofors guns on the run of the Mole.