A joint British and Dutch force captured Menorca from the Spanish in 1708. Under the subsequent Treaty of Utrecht (1713) Gibraltar and the island of Menorca were handed over to the British Crown by Spain. The British quickly realised the potential of Port Mahon, Menorca as a naval base and a shore facilities were built there. This was approximately the same time as the British were establishing their Naval Base at English Harbour, Antigua in the Leeward Islands.
One of the first major constructions at Port Mahon was a Royal Naval Hospital on the Isla del Rey in Port Mahon. Work started on the hospital in 1711 and this building therefore proceeded the building of similar hospitals in both Gibraltar and Jamaica. These Naval Hospital were subsequently built at most major Royal Naval Bases around the World, one of the best surviving being the Royal Naval Hospital Bighi in Malta.
The British spent considerable funds on improving the fortifications on Menorca Island. With some interruptions, the British held Menorca until 1802 when it was handed to Spain under the Treaty of Amiens.
During their time at Menorca the British built or improved the following fortifications:
- Saint Philip’s Castle, built by the Spanish from 1555 but expanded by the British between 1708 and 1756. Captured and slighted by the Spanish in 1782.
- For Marlborough, built by the British between 1720 and 1726 and largely cut out of the rock.
- Four towers to protect the harbour approaches, Stuart (En Penjat) Tower, Phillapet Tower, on the west side of the channel and St Claire (Cala Taulera) Tower and Erskine (Los Freus) Tower by La Mola Fort.
- Three other towers outside the main Mahon Harbour area at Addaya, Fornella and Sa Nitja.
The British also modified some of the existing Spanish towers, such as Alcufar and Punta Prima.