The magnitude and extent of the historical importance of Rosia Tanks site

We refer to an article dated the 1st December 2005 published in PANORAMA newspaper under the title "Save the 18th Century Water Tanks".

The current debate within the media regarding the Rosia Tanks development has been sparked by the concerns the South District Committee have raised publicly. In particular, we have noted with interest the Heritage issues raised by everyone, in favour and against the proposed development at Rosia Tanks.

The aforementioned report has however made us realise the real magnitude and extent of the historical importance of this site. For this, we are very grateful to the anonymous historian whose article highlighted the following points:

1. Background of Area

This elegant engineering structure was built during the latter half of the 18th century. This Naval installation was crucial in providing the Royal Navy with provisions during the Napoleonic Wars via Rosia Harbour (now known as Rosia Bay) which incidentally, at that time was Gibraltar's only harbour. This Yard and Water Tanks precede all other water provisioning systems in Gibraltar, as well as a considerable part of our tunnel systems.

2. Water Storage

The superbly designed underground water storage system collected rainwater from the roof of the Victualling Vaults themselves, and stored hermetically. The water was then gravity fed towards ships berthed at the original Rosia Harbour via a route underneath the road which now leads to Camp Bay. The vaulted roofs of the tanks are still in an excellent state of repair, and thus, more than a match to any other brick and sand-lime mortar vaults found sparingly around Gibraltar.

3. Touristic Potential Value

In order to keep the water as pure as possible, the MOD have always kept the Tanks enclosed by a high wall around its entire perimeter, and this has kept this engineering masterpiece out of the public eye. Following the success of the Upper Galleries which date from the same period, this site and installation has great tourist potential, and would be a superb complement and addition to the Parson's Lodge Battery site.

Following revelations that the site is even more important than originally thought, we are even more astounded that a Government that has very recently professed to be sensitive to Heritage Issues should allow developers to permanently destroy this site. Surely we should be seeking to maximise the potential value of this site as a major tourist attraction.

There is no doubt that a proper "affordable" housing scheme providing 180 or so homes can be properly sited at a more suitable location. Why the powers that be are making both these ideas mutually exclusive we cannot even begin to fathom. It cannot possibly be that difficult to achieve both the preservation of this site and the relocation of this project.

We therefore trust that 'common sense? will prevail and that the DPC will consider these issues and ultimately reject the developer's application to build a tower block on this historic site.

For and on behalf

The South District Committee