Silhouettes of mining scaffolds dominate the horizon, steam machines rolling over metal tracks, towns born out of industrial paternalism... All a testimony to the richness that flows from underground, from the rivers and seafloor, to how men and women tried to tame nature. This image is very different ... more
Silhouettes of mining scaffolds dominate the horizon, steam machines rolling over metal tracks, towns born out of industrial paternalism... All a testimony to the richness that flows from underground, from the rivers and seafloor, to how men and women tried to tame nature.
This image is very different from the rural Asturias of the 19th century, whose inhabitants lived off of agriculture and livestock farming and only had a few canning factories and arms factories built in the 18th century. The men and women of Asturias had known about coal for at least two centuries but they had never shown an interest in mining it. But industrialization required fuel and the Asturian deposits were too highly sought-after.
Coal mining opened the way for all the rest. With mining came the metallurgical and steel industry and power production, fuelled also by the abundance of water. The railway became the main figure of industrialization. The landscape of the Principality was transformed, driving it towards the future.
Asturias's industrial heritage, protected by the Spanish Cultural Heritage Law, includes three types of assets: isolated elements, industrial plants and whole landscapes revealing a range of different activities. These buildings and industrial structures dot the horizon of Asturias. Taking a trip along the motorways of the Principality you will see the outlines of the scaffolds that lowered the cages down into the pits, the unique architecture of the mining neighbourhood’s, factories, old gas tanks and lofty chimneys.
Without coal… there is nothing
Asturias is socially and economically, and even symbolically, identified with coal: this was the key element of the industrial revolution, but the stimulus for its large-scale production was the installation of two Royal Arms Factories in Oviedo and Trubia at the end of the 18th century, which prompted the search for iron and coal sites, the establishment of the mining activity, improved transport infrastructures... and ultimately led to the modernization of the Principality.
The watchful eyes of visitors will spot, here and there, the tracks of the main historic industrial activity in our region, an activity that seems to inexorably have its days counted, but which continues to define the Asturian region, its people and its culture. This fossil fuel soon became a dominant energy source obtained with extremely hard work and, particularly, in underground tasks that have also changed the surface: the work of thousands of people, soon stained black, and which is waiting to be discovered