The Garrison Library was established in 1793, the idea of Colonel John Drinkwater as a result of four years without any reading matter during the Great Siege.
The Gibraltar Garrison Library was established on the 4th. September, 1793, the idea of Colonel John Drinkwater. As a Captain, Drinkwater had endured nearly four years without any reading matter during the Great Siege, and he was determined that, should there be another siege, this would not happen again.
The Library was first housed in Main Street, but so many books were bought by the Committee and presented by naval and military officers stationed in the garrison that the premises soon became inadequate. The British Government then agreed to provide funds for a new building.
The site chosen for the building, its present location, was originally a garden belonging to the governor, who also owned the open space in front, today called Governor’s Parade. According to the Spanish historian Ayala, this area yielded sufficient grass to supply the Governor’s horses and cattle throughout the year.
The construction of the building, believed to be the finest English institution of this kind outside England, began in 1800 and was completed four years later. Responsible for the work was the then chief engineer of the Garrison, Major-General Fyers whose portrait by Heppner hands on the staircase of the Library.
A new wing was added in 1867, and over the years a considerable amount of house property was built on the land held in trust by the Library Committee. Today, the library houses a fine collection of historical works on Gibraltar, and the total number of books (all sections included) is estimated at well over 40,000.
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