View all newsletters
Sign up to our newsletters

Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Newstatesman Gibraltar
  2. News & Insights
22 April 2014updated 11 Sep 2021 6:08pm

In pictures: the story of the Gibraltar/Spanish border

In Part I of this two-part photo essay, local historian Tito Vallejo explores the fraught relations along this 1.7km strip that ultimately led to the 1969 border closure.

By New Statesman

The closure of the Gibraltar/Spanish border between the years 1969 and 1985 was a period which had enormous political and social impact on the small territory I call home. The full story of what led to these extraordinary circumstances, and what unfolded during and after, are perhaps not well known to the casual reader.

Despite the numerous belligerent sieges Gibraltar has undergone, no official border fence existed between Spain and Gibraltar till the year 1910. Before this date there were just two lines of British and Spanish sentries in their boxes looking at each other from a certain distance. Between them lay the neutral ground, a no man’s land.

 (A sentry at the “fenceless” frontier between Spain and Gibraltar, a neutral ground, 1871.)

The smuggling of contraband from Gibraltar into Spain has always been rife, and tobacco was the prized item. Smugglers of the time were persistent and inventive, and tobacco was often carried across the neutral ground strapped to the bodies of specially trained “contraband dogs”. In their attempts at stopping these dogs, sentries from both sides would take shots at the animals and, in so doing, were sometimes in danger of shooting each other.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU