Gibraltar is one of those enchanting places that has undergone very important positive changes and has grown responsibly over the last decades. Streets that used to be rundown have now changed into well-kept clean areas with a good number of historic buildings being restored, often to their former glorious days, preserving their beautiful Mediterranean façades with a charming mixture of Genoese, Maltese, Spanish and French origin. After all, these are the best Mediterranean styles put together.
One of those buildings is 72 Governors Street, formerly the property of the Sanguinetti family and now restored by a Gibraltarian whose love and dedication can be seen by the great result obtained in this particular case. Brian Ramagge is proud of being an essential part of this lovely small project. ‘When I took over the management, the idea was quite different so I insisted on carrying on a good and proper job. As it’s a historical building I thought it deserved more and the best way was to preserve its heritage and tradition, which makes a tremendous difference at the end of the day. We can now say without a doubt that the final product is a very fine example of a traditional Gibraltar Old town building which so many people love, including a large number of tourists who simply adore this colonial heritage.’
Located just a few yards from Main Street, it can be seen as a small gem in the crown. Busy groceries, hairdressers and shops of all kinds. Most handy in every respect. What goes around, comes around is the right case with these old restored buildings. A lot of Gibraltar residents left this area because of the poor facilities and lack of amenities found in the old town. Now they are coming back to these restored buildings.
A lot of these small streets remind me of certain areas of la Vieille Bayonne in South West France, or the small Genoese villages of Northern Italy – most charming and attractive.
Another interesting building is The Arches. This is an enchanting historic building formerly used as the Royal Gibraltar Police barracks located in Castle Road, again, in the old town. The development recognised the importance and significance of the former building and has completed the new development retaining the traditional façades and just remodelling the interiors. The result is an attractive product which will be available within this year of 2017.
10 Library Street is a charming Georgian building beautifully restored by its present owners. A Gibraltar Heritage Trust award winner, it has most of its original features and is now a very special family house in the heart of the Old Town.
Ince´s Farm is another Gibraltar Heritage Trust award winner. A good and successful restoration project has produced a beautiful building keeping its colonial style and heritage. The owners made sure it all stayed original, yet the job was remarkably carried out with great respect for its former character and originality.
Flat Bastion Mews was an almost derelict empty building on which the Government of Gibraltar decided to take the challenge and restore it to its former good days and greatly succeeded. They took special care to make sure it all worked to perfection and the final result is a stunning building carefully restored. A correct use of materials have included wooden sash windows and shutters as well as the original style iron work. An award was presented to its residents by the Gibraltar Heritage Trust. What a positive change from an empty building which was feared by some to be demolished.
Wellington Front is an 1840 Fortification built with limestone concrete which, again, the Gibraltar Government took great care to restore. The result now is an awesome historic building.
During the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo’s opening of the first phase of the project, he said: “This now looks like a magnificent restoration of an area that should have never fallen into the disuse that it had. We have this jewel back to how it should be,” he added. Mr. Picardo rightfully noted how sometimes heritage is overlooked in Gibraltar and that the area was previously used for parking and known for flooding every time it rained. “It was not known to be seen in the splendour it can be seen today,” he said. The final result is a fantastic example to follow.
Last but by no means least is 31-35 Cannon Lane, a degraded building which has been turned by its owners into a good mixture of residential and commercial units maintaining an enchanting façade yet totally modernised within. It was rightfully given an award by the Gibraltar Heritage Trust.
These are all clear examples and a solid proof that historic buildings can and should be restored. The bottom line is that it is perfectly feasible to make a restoration project commercially viable for owners and developers alike. Restoration is, without a doubt, the right answer to the headline.