Government of Gibraltar
Press Office

No.6 Convent Place, Gibraltar                Tel: 70071     Fax: 74524

Press Release

No: 145/2002
Date: 13 August 2002

John Mackintosh Square beautification

Government has invited tenders for the beautification of John Mackintosh Square. This is the next stage in the beautification of Main Street, and the project will see the recovery of what was once Gibraltar's main square.

The designs for the square have been conceived in such a way as to create a central focal point on Main Street. The square was known as the Alameda in the 18th century, when it was the central recreational area allowed to our forefathers by the military authorities. It was also the commercial hub of Gibraltar where auctions were conducted (hence the Spanish name for the square, "El Martillo" - a reference to the auctioneer's gavel), and where the Merchants' Exchange was built by General Don in 1817 with money raised from a public subscription by the principal merchants and inhabitants. Fine town houses graced the square. Indeed, when the grant of land to build a house was made to Aaron Cardozo in the early 19th century, one condition was that the house should be "an ornament to the Alameda". The square also had a military past: the Main Guard (now the offices of the Heritage Trust) was the place from which all the sentries in Gibraltar were posted each evening. Military punishment in the form of floggings would take place in the square.

The Government felt that the enclosed, raised Piazza denied this fine historical square of much of its charm. There is at present a lack of connectivity between the square and the perimeter side streets. The raised platform is acting as a visual and physical barrier. There is a lack of activity within the square. There is a poor scale and distribution of planting. There are poor finishes to the square as it now stands, and the street furniture is inapporpriate for a major city square. There is poor relationship between the square and the buildings, shops, cafes and restaurants round the square.

"The decision was therefore taken to address all these issues, demolish the structure and recover what is actually a large open area. The project which has gone out to tender will restore the square as one of a series of focal points along the Main Street and bring it back to life." Said Acting Chief Minister, Keith Azopardi.

The work is estimated to take 13 months, and it will be carried out in four phases as follows:

phase 1 - the demolition of the structures on the square and the area of the taxi rank on the south side of the square.

phase 2 - the area between the taxi stand and Treasury Building.

phase 3 - the western part of the square, in front of the City Hall and between the City Hall and Irish Town.

phase 4 - the remaining eastern part of the square.

Plans to temporarily route traffic from Line Wall road to City Mill Lane have been drawn up, and also plans to temporarily resite the taxi stand. The public will be informed of the arrangements that have been made in this respect in due course.

A fountain will be positioned in the square, and will be an attractive feature at a point which will connect the axis represented by an imaginary line from the House of Assembly with the City Hall with the cross axis represented by an imaginary line from Irish Town to the Main Guard. It will therefore be at the very centre of the square.

The final stage of the beautification of the square will be the planting of trees similar to those which grace Main Street round the perimeter of the square and larger trees which will be allowed to become mature in the centre of the square, in a series of grassed area.

In tandem with this major refurbishment, improvement and redesign of John Mackintosh Square, the façade of the House of Assembly will receive a facelift and the building will be floodlit at night.





Last Revised : 14 June 2002