Josep Antoni Muntadas y Campeny (1816–80)

Josep Antoni Muntadas y Campeny was one of the leaders of the large-scale cotton industry in Spain. He founded the company known as La España Industrial with his brothers in 1847 at Sants in Catalunya. It grew to employ 2,500 people.

Josep Antoni was the youngest of seven children of Matías Muntadas y Font and Francisca Campeny y Vallvé at Igualada, north-west of Barcelona. The family were established already in textile manufacturing. His father owned a cotton-spinning factory in Barcelona where Josep Antoni went to work at the age of 13 in a machine-building workshop. By 1839 the family had built another factory called Muntadas Brothers. In 1841 Josep Antoni went to Madrid to open a warehouse that sold the family’s cotton to a wide market.

After the death of their father, the company known as La España Industrial was created in 1847 in the names of the brothers Josep Antoni, Pau, Bernart, Jaume, Ignasi, Isidre and Joan. They already owned land at Sants where they planned to build a large new factory. Josep Antoni went to England to buy the first steam engine and cotton machinery. He and Isidre became joint managing directors. A few years later the company had three factories in Barcelona and two more nearby at Sabadell. The most important was the huge steam-powered factory at Sants, which reached full capacity by 1853 and extended over a large area. It was built with the most modern equipment, brought with expert workers from Britain and France, and processed everything from raw cotton to printed and embroidered cotton fabric.

Josep Antoni also had interests in railways and the Bank of Barcelona and was active in trade organisations and politics. He remained closely involved with the factory at Sants, living inside the compound and providing health care for the workers. However, the cotton industry depended on cotton imported from the slave-worked plantations in Cuba and in 1869 he helped to raise the volunteer corps to fight the insurrection on the island.

The factory of La España Industrial continued at Sants until 1972 and was later redeveloped with a housing complex, a sports centre for the Barcelona Olympics and a public park named the Parque de la España Industrial.