WORKS at the Garrison Library have led to the discovery of a basement floor dating back to 1800.

The terracotta and limestone floor was located beneath a layer of concrete probably laid after World War Two to level out a floor.

The discovery was made during major restoration works at the former military library which contains books dating back to the 18th Century.

“The floor only became visible after a small channel was opened along the concrete to carry electrical cabling from one end of the basement to the other,” said the Gibraltar Government.

“Much of the floor has now been carefully uncovered with a full conservation of the floor to be carried out soon.”

The chance find on the west side of the building was only brought to light as workers tried to create a trunk for cables, so they would not be damaged by the stone walls.

“The suggestion at present is that the recovered terracotta and limestone floor dates to c. 1800 – 1804, the period which saw the erection of the Garrison Library,” revealed the Government.

“Further research will be carried out given that the plot on which the Library sits may have been the site for an earlier building.”

PICTURESQUE: The Garrison Library Gardens

Dominic Lopez, the Ministry for Heritage archaeologist, and Manolo Jaen, conservation expert at the Gibraltar National Museum have both helped in this project.

“The aim throughout has been to preserve and conserve the Library’s historical and architectural heritage, with measures in place to reflect this initiative,” said the Government.

Functional use

The building only came under Gibraltar Government ownership in 2011, before which it was run as a commercial library with its own committee.

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HISTORIC: The floor might be imperfect but that is its beauty

“The discovery of the original floor at the Garrison Library basement is a good example of how heritage considerations can function alongside construction works currently underway at the Library,” Minister for Heritage, John Cortes, said.

“The floor will of course be conserved and protected, but importantly, it shall form part of a functional space that is both respectful of the past and of 21st century institutional requirements.

“Upon completion the basement will provide greater access to the Library’s collections whilst also creating provision for their safeguarding”.

The library was first opened by the Duke of Kent in 1804 located on the site of the former government office during Gibraltar’s time as part of Spain.

Its latest renovation will help the Garrison Library serve a key part of Gibraltar’s cultural offering, with the building being the centre of the territory’s literary festival in November.

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