by Gemma Suárez Menéndez
B.A and Ph.D. degrees in Art History (University of Oviedo). Research area: Industrial Heritage.
From the last third of the nineteenth century onwards Port Authorities have regulated the development of Spanish ports, producers of a rich industrial heritage.
Adolphe Desoignie, the engineer who managed the Arnao mining site, stated that a well-conceived port is capable of linking a city with the whole of the Spanish coastline and thus result in an important hub for the regional industry. This maxim may be applied to ports in general, given the existence of good infrastructures for commerce and industry.
The coastal landscape of Asturias is shared by piers, bitts, coal drops, wharves and basins, as well as fishing villages and their fish auction markets – as in Llanes and Ribadesella, and lighthouses – such as those at Cape Peñas, Luarca and Candás – guiding the way back home.
Industrial ports are particularly relevant. Some, such as San Esteban de Pravia, expanded by Basque steel businessmen, grew alongside the mining industry. The navy engineer Casado de Torres’ barges brought their mineral cargo down the Nalón river as early as the late eighteenth century.
The ports of Avilés and Gijón played a significant role in the region’s industrialization process since the middle of the nineteenth century. At that time coal was the main cargo, and it became even more essential in the period of economic self-sufficiency under Franco, when British coal imports were cancelled. Its importance varied during the coal crisis of the Sixties, when the steel industry flourished in the region and companies such as ENSIDESA and UNINSA were established in Avilés and Veriña, respectively. This shift demanded a transformation in the ports’ infrastructures, which in turn contributed to thectively. This shift demanded a transformation in the ports’ infrastructures, which in turn contributed to the increase of the Industrial Heritage of the region. The new coastal landscape that resulted from all these changes is a legacy well worth preserving for the education of the future generations.
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