gibraltar holidaysThe Leisure Centre opens every day from 10am to 12 midnight (closed Good Friday only). The centre is non-smoking, smoking is only permitted on the outdoor esplanade or terraces. Rules & Conditions leaflet is available from reception. For the comfort, benefit, security and safety of all the users, we ask users for co-operation with the King’s Bastion Leisure Centre staff to ensure that the rules and conditions are effectively enforced. The centre operates a zero tolerance policy. Alcoholic drinks may be consumed only by persons over the age of 18 and in designated seating areas only.

HISTORICAL DATA - KING'S BASTION

For years King's Bastion, the main battery defending the town and key position for General Eliott fighting off the Spanish during the worst attacks of the Great Siege, has been hidden by the large modern structure of the Generating Station.

 

Alexis Almeda, Chairman of the Gibraltar Heritage Trust says, "This is the last major battery built in this style and so is very important. We would love to restore King's Bastion to its former glory, it is magnificent and deserves to be seen”.

 

The bastion was built in Line Wall, which runs along the western side of the Rock and follows the old Moorish sea wall. The sea used to come to the foot of the wall and it is thought there has been a fortification of sorts on the same site as King's Bastion for more than 800 years. The first was probably a Moorish gate known as the Algeciras Gate decorated with rich Arab workmanship and incorporating a key design, still popular today. This was destroyed by El Fratino in 1575 when the Spanish finally decided to strengthen Gibraltar's defences after prolonged and violent attacks from the Corsairs (Turkish pirates based across the Strait). Fratino was an Italian military engineer working for the Spanish but he was only allowed to finish a fraction of the plans drawn up for extra walls and batteries around Gibraltar.

 

Fifty years later Philip IV called for further modernisation of the fortifications and Line Wall, including the San Lorenzo battery where King's Bastion now stands, was strengthened. The batteries or gun platforms were placed so they could give cover to their own ships sheltering in the lea and fire on any enemy vessels bombarding the city walls. When the British had to fight off the combined forces of France and Spain during the Great Siege in 1779 to 1783 King's Bastion proved invaluable.

 

The present bastion was designed by the lieutenant governor Major General Robert Boyd as part of his overall plans created in 1769 to make Gibraltar an impregnable fortress.

 

He was in charge of forming a company of military artificers in 1772 which later became the Corps of Royal Engineers - a fact commemorated by a plaque on the wall of King's Bastion, their first mayor job.

 

The soldier craftsmen and labourers worked under Colonel William Green, chief engineer during the Great Siege and King's Bastion was their greatest work. Begun in 1773 and completed in three years, the bastion was a grand structure with casemates large enough for a regiment of 800 men. During construction Major General Boyd incorporated a special vault for himself but, although according to his wishes he was eventually buried there, no record exists of the exact site of the tomb. When laying the foundation stone Boyd had declared he hoped to live to see the bastion defy the combined might of France and Spain. It was only six years after its completion that it played just such a role. From there red-hot shot was first fired on the Spanish floating batteries and Governor General Eliott chose to stand there throughout the Great Siege attack of 1782.

 

On September 12th 1782, the combined enemy fleet comprising 47 ships and 10 floating batteries hove into sight and the following day the flag ship La Pastor anchored just 90 yards off King's Bastion.

 

Even after three hard years of siege and with only 7,500 men left in the garrison, Gibraltar managed to fight off the attack largely thanks to the recently developed red-hot shot launched from King's Bastion and, after 24 hours of intense fighting, the enemy fleet was destroyed.

 

The Great Siege ended the following year and proved to be the last military attack on the Rock. A century-and-a-half later King's Bastion was being used by the City electric company. When ground to the east of the bastion was needed for storing coal the plaque commemorating the burial of Sir Robert Boyd had to be moved to save its current position in the southwest corner of the promenade constructed in the 1920's.

Demand for electricity eventually called for a purpose built generating station and a report from 1959 states, "A new generating station of modern and striking construction will soon make a appearance to the North of King's Bastion and will without doubt provide a new landmark in Gibraltar's progress in the electrical field".