King’s Bastion Leisure Centre, Gibraltar

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 commended almost the entirety of Gibraltar’s western sea defences and nearby anchorages. It housed casemates, which were ideal as barrack accomodation, so it became the ideal command post for defending the attacks of the Franco-Spanish floating batteries on the 13th September, 1782.

The mid to late 19th Century was 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 size 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 funs 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.

 

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