Flat Bastion Magazine

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Flat Bastion Magazine
Part of Fortifications of Gibraltar
Flat Bastion, Charles V Wall, Gibraltar
Flat Bastion Panoramic.png
Panoramic of the western façade of Flat Bastion Magazine with Flat Bastion Road in the foreground.
Flat Bastion Map 1908.png
Section of the 1908 Ordnance Survey map of Gibraltar showing the Flat Bastion, with the Flat Bastion Magazine highlighted in yellow. North is to the left.
Flat Bastion Magazine is located in Gibraltar
Flat Bastion Magazine
Flat Bastion Magazine
Coordinates 36°08′06″N 5°21′04″W / 36.134907°N 5.351018°W / 36.134907; -5.351018
Type Magazine
Site information
Owner Government of Gibraltar
Open to
the public
By appointment
Condition Restored, Converted to Geological Research Facility
Site history
Built 1873

The Flat Bastion Magazine is a 19th-century magazine in the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar. It is located within the Flat Bastion, a fortification that projects from the 16th century Charles V Wall at the former southern limit of the city. Flat Bastion Road extends through the bastion, just to the west of the magazine, south of which it becomes Gardiner's Road. Flat Bastion Magazine was constructed to store gunpowder, but eventually lay abandoned for years. While the Government of Gibraltar initially planned to develop it for parking, geology enthusiast Freddie Gomez and a colleague restored the building, which is now used as a geological research facility and exhibition centre. Both the Flat Bastion and the Flat Bastion Magazine are listed with the Gibraltar Heritage Trust. In addition, Gomez received the 2001 Heritage Award for the restoration of the building.

Early history[edit]

Keystone over a doorway at Flat Bastion Magazine shows it dates back to at least 1873.
Gate cut through Charles V Wall to allow access to the Flat Bastion via Flat Bastion Road.

The Flat Bastion Magazine is a magazine in Gibraltar, the British Overseas Territory at the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula.[1][2] It is within the eastern portion (highlighted in map below) of the Flat Bastion, one of the fortifications of Gibraltar that projects southward from the Charles V Wall and constituted part of the defences of the former southern limit of the city.[3] Flat Bastion Road traverses the Flat Bastion, extending along the west side of the Flat Bastion Magazine.[4][5][6] Access to the road at the north end of the bastion is provided by a gate (depicted in map below and in photograph at left) in the Charles V Wall, while at the south end of the bastion, a portion of its face has been removed (pictured in panoramic above).[5][6] Immediately south of the bastion and its magazine, the road becomes Gardiner's Road.[7]

The magazine was built on scree breccia, with an underlying bedrock of limestone. The ground on which the magazine was constructed was relatively flat due to "quaternary wave-cut platforms."[8] While it is generally considered likely that a magazine was formerly present on the same site, the current, British magazine dates back to at least 1873, based on the date inscribed on a keystone over one of the doorways (pictured at left).[5][9] The Flat Bastion Magazine was constructed primarily of locally quarried limestone blocks.[8] It was built in wartime to store approximately 5,000 barrels of gunpowder.[5][10] Many of the original wooden supports are still present. The primary storage area for gunpowder has been described as "a room within a room" as it is surrounded by a narrow hallway.[5] Windows are present at the side walls of the principal room. Bricks were utilized in the construction of the walls, to absorb the impact of explosions. The doors were fabricated from oak that dates back five or six centuries, well before the British version of the magazine was built.[10]


Gibraltarian Freddie Gomez, whose interests include history and geology, has looked after Flat Bastion Magazine for years, and believes that it dates back to before 1873.[5][9][10] The building had been abandoned for an extended period of time before his decision to restore it.[5][10] It is now a geological research facility and exhibition centre, Geological Research Station and Lithology of Gibraltar, and displays a large collection of rocks and minerals.[4][10][11] While many of the displayed pieces come from his personal collection, a number have been donated.[5][10] In 2001, the Gibraltar Heritage Trust presented Gomez with the 2001 Heritage Award in the senior individual category for "his enthusiasm and single-minded dedication to the restoration and preservation of Flat Bastion Magazine." Since 1993, the award has been presented annually by the Trust.[12][13][14]

During a two-week training period in Gibraltar, the 150 (Yorkshire) Transport Regiment (Volunteers) from Doncaster and Kingston upon Hull spent a day at the Flat Bastion Magazine. The regiment assisted Gomez by performing a variety of repairs on the historic building. The fire step, roof, railings, pillars, wall, and letter box were refurbished.[9] Gomez, who has been described as "entertainingly garrulous and delightfully eccentric," is primarily self-taught and knowledgeable on the topic of Gibraltar's geology. A native of Gibraltar, he initially completed his formal education at the age of fifteen when he was apprenticed out by his father. He spent time in Britain but returned to Gibraltar in 1986, after which he developed a passion for geology.[15] He obtained a certificate in sedimentary geology from the University of Durham about 1997.[16] Gomez established the Gibraltar Cave Exploration and Protection Group, although the organisation soon dissolved. However, it was through that organisation that Gomez developed a friendship with geologist Paul Hopkinson, who has also been instrumental in the restoration of the magazine. Flat Bastion Magazine had initially been slated to be redeveloped as a parking garage. The two men collaborated to save the historic Gibraltar structure.[15]

Both the Flat Bastion Magazine and the structure within which it is contained, the Flat Bastion, are listed buildings with the Gibraltar Heritage Trust.[7] Heritage Minister Steven Linares and several others toured Flat Bastion Magazine on 27 March 2012. Gomez related the details of the magazine's structure and history to his audience.[10] While visits to the facility are currently by appointment only, it is anticipated that the Flat Bastion Magazine will be opened to the public.[4][10]



  1. ^ "List of Crown Dependencies & Overseas Territories". fco.gov.uk. Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  2. ^ Roach, John (13 September 2006). "Neandertals' Last Stand Was in Gibraltar, Study Suggests". National Geographic News. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  3. ^ Gilbard, Lieutenant Colonel George James (1881). A popular history of Gibraltar, its institutions, and its neighbourhood on both sides of the Straits, and a guide book to their principal places and objects of interest. Garrison Library Printing Establishment. p. 5. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c "Historical Gibraltar Attractions - Flat Bastion Magazine". gibraltarinformation.com. Gibraltarinformation.com. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "(L) Flat Bastion, Flat Bastion Magazine". discovergibraltar.com. DiscoverGibraltar.com Click-Fortifications; City Walls and Fortifications; Section 3; L Flat Bastion, Prince Edwards Gate. Archived from the original on 5 September 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  6. ^ a b "Map - Southeast face of bastion". maps.google.com. Google Maps. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  7. ^ a b "Gibraltar Heritage Trust Act 1989" (PDF). gibraltarlaws.gov.gi. Government of Gibraltar. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  8. ^ a b Gomez, Freddie (9 December 2007). "Applied Geology (Part 3) Urban Development". Vox - The Truly Independent Gibraltar Newspaper. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c "Flat out at the Bastion". Gibraltar news from Panorama. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h Netto, David (28 March 2012). "New Geology Site at Renovated Flat Bastion Magazine". Gibraltar Chronicle. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  11. ^ "Gibraltar Tourist Attractions - Apes, CableCar and More". Vox - The Truly Independent Gibraltar Newspaper. 1 February 2007. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  12. ^ "Running List of Heritage Award Winners" (PDF). gibraltarheritagetrust.org.gi. Gibraltar Heritage Trust. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  13. ^ "Heritage awards". Panorama - Gibraltar Today. 2001. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  14. ^ "Gibraltar Heritage Awards - 2012 Entry Form" (PDF). gibraltarheritagetrust.org.gi. Gibraltar Heritage Trust. Retrieved 6 October 2012. 
  15. ^ a b "Freddy Gomez: Overcoming the Rock's social apartheid created a self-taught polymath". Vox - The Truly Independent Gibraltar Newspaper. 11 August 2007. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  16. ^ "Freddy Gomez: Maintenance Skills Which Surfaced at London's Hilton Led to Promotion and Travel". Vox - The Truly Independent Gibraltar Newspaper. 19 August 2007. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 

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