La Casona - Housing for Railway Agents
Villabona Station, Llanera
Since the San Juan de Nieva railway line was opened in 1890, Villabona became an important transport core within the Compañía del Norte railway network in Asturias. Its facilities underwent several extensions from the beginning of the 20th century onwards, especially in 1911, when several extension works were ordered. These included the construction of a locomotive depot to the north of the passenger building.
As part of the same works, José Fernández Bayón was commissioned to build a residential building for agents the following year. This was located to the east of the tracks at Avilés.
It is a large building with a rectangular ground plan divided into three floors and an attic. It had a gable roof with flat tiles and an elaborate ceramic cresting. The façades are built with fair-faced brickwork walls and with ashlar masonry in the areas of greatest relief. They are divided into three sections, a central one topped by two gables on the main façades, and two lateral ones. The decoration is mainly made up of corbels and mouldings on the lintels of the bays, strips separating the floors all along the façade and pilasters on the corners. There is also an elaborated eave with overlapping fascias.
Inside, it must have originally been made up of individual rooms, accessible by a central staircase, with common areas (dining room and toilets) on the ground floor. The railway workers spent the night there according to the needs of the service and were looked after by staff that was in charge of the kitchen and cleaning. It was later divided into different dwellings, whose distribution and layout varied from floor to floor. Finally, they were sold to their occupants during the Renfe era.
The aesthetics of this building are similar to other constructions built in Asturias during the same period in places such as Oviedo or Ujo, most of which have now disappeared. It represents a very interesting case of buildings to host railway workers, a type of construction that was once very common in stations of a certain importance. La Casona is the last remaining representative in the region.