King's College London
Online Exhibitions
West of Suez: Britain and the Mediterranean, 1704-1967

Gibraltar in photographs

Photograph showing some of the population of Gibraltar, including a British policeman and his Spanish counterpart at the frontier with Spain, workmen, housewives and official personnelPhotograph showing some of the population of Gibraltar, including a British policeman and his Spanish counterpart at the frontier with SpainThe Foyle Special Collections Library has catalogued 47 sets of black and white photographs issued by the Central Office of Information and published by HMSO. Some of these have the title: Colonial empire picture sets and all were published between 1948 and 1962.

Although these compilations were published at the end of empire, when many colonies were gaining independence, some of the colonies referenced in these picture sets did remain part of Britain, with Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands being two of the most notable examples.

The picture set that this image is from is concerned with Gibraltar, a strategic ‘rocky promontory’ of Empire which played an important role as a naval port in both world wars.

The images here show a British policeman and his Spanish counterpart checking documents at the frontier with Spain, with the famous Rock of Gibraltar in the background; some of the residents and administrative personnel of the territory; and Spanish workmen returning home after a day’s work. Spanish workers, both male and female, were crucial to life on the Rock until Franco closed the frontier in 1969. The border did not fully re-open until 1985, when Spain formally joined the European Community.

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