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Book launch highlights importance of the Rock’s social history

The Beanland’s, their extended family and friends gathered for the launch of the book ‘Journey to Gibraltar... Letters, Memoirs and Personal Diaries 1861-1951’ based on the family history and their arrival on the Rock 151 years ago.

Written and compiled by Vanessa Beanland with additions by her father Malcolm and other family members, Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia, described the book as much a social history of the Rock as it was of the family’s history coupled with its important contribution to the social history of Gibraltar as seen through the eyes of different generations of Beanlands.

Chairman of the Trust, Ian Balestrino, on presenting the book at the Gibraltar Heritage Trust Offices, The Main Guard, on Tuesday evening, said the GHT encouraged this kind of work and especially research on the history of local families.

Dr Garcia who launched the book said this was important because there was a time when the only history written locally was that of the military and it is right that now there were more books being published on family and social history. Dr Garcia, a distant relative of Malcolm Beanland through his wife Marie Carmen and his own mother, spoke of how the book was also “a wider social history of Gibraltar and how Gibraltar was like in Victorian times”.

He added, “I certainly found it an eye-opener in many aspects. It is a fascinating read and I have no doubt it will make a significant contribution to the history of Gibraltar.”

Vanessa Beanland meanwhile hoped the Beanland initiative would help others to “go on the same journey”.

“It really was incredible. The more you dig the more you find out,” she said.

Her father Malcolm Beanland who contributed to the research and spoke of the Beanlands on the Rock, UK and beyond, and how the book had come together gave his gratitude to his daughter for all the work she had undertaken in researching and ploughing through the source material of original letters, diaries and memoirs.

It was his great-grandfather Bolton, he acknowledged, who assured his family history would not be forgotten having written the first of some 60 letters in 1861 and then over a period of over 30 years. His son John in 1916 whilst in Gibraltar had them type-set and printed in the family stationary and printing works ‘Beanland Malin’ then in Cornwall’s Parade.

Future generations, said Mr Beanland, his own father’s generation, had made certain they were kept safe. Then in 1997 they were discovered again. It was together with his family and his wife Marie-Carmen, whilst helping to clear their home in Main Street, who insisted they take the books which would one day become the resource for the story which tells the arrival of the Beanlands on the Rock and their 150 year journey.

The book is available from the Gibraltar Heritage Trust.

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