Real Fábrica de Hojalata y Altos hornos de San Miguel (The Royal Factory of San Miguel) [Hydraulic Heritage]
• Heritage Value: Medium
• Landscape Value: High
• Condition: Low state of repair
• Type of hydraulic structure: Industry
• Stage of the Great Málaga Path: Stage 26: Jimera de Líbar - Benalauría
• Where to find it: Júzcar
• Period: 18th century
• Architect: Pedro Enrique Meuron and Emerico Dupasquier
• UTM Coordinates: 305869,9958, 4053798,515
HOW TO FIND IT
The factory is located close to the village of Júzcar. It is advisable to ask for directions at the Town Hall, as it is accessed from two private properties called “La Fábrica” and “Finca Vega Larga”. While the first is residential, the second has been partly turned into a campsite—by following the river, you can move from one property to the other.
The site included:
- Dam and upper canal
- Tin factory
- Iron warehouse for pile drivers
- Whitening facilities
- Workers' huts, chapel, butcher shop, shop and tavern, stables, Plaza de San Miguel square
- Dam and lower canal
- Mine washing area
- Coal warehouse
- Foundry oven, forge, foundry house, and Plaza de Santa Bárbara and Plaza de San Eloy squares
- Accounting office
- Bread oven
Although the site has been partly reused, several of the original factory buildings remain in place. The upper part has been reconditioned as a vineyard and winery that can be visited.
According to a book published by Altos Hornos de Vizcaya, the first tin factory of Spain was installed in Júzcar and would sit on a private property known as “Finca La Fábrica”. It is situated on private property.
Júzcar was chosen as the ideal site for this factory because of the abundant wood in its mountainous region, as it was indispensable for the vegetable carbon production and iron smelting. The factory started iron production in 1727 and, according to the book mentioned above, the name given to the place and engraved on the stonework over the main entrance was, “La nunca vista en Espańa REAL FÁBRICA DE HOJALATA Y SUS ADHERENTES, reinando los siempre invictos monarcas y Católicos Reyes don Felipe V y dońa Isabel Farnesio” (“Something unseen before in Spain, THE ROYAL FACTORY OF TIN AND ITS DERIVATIVES; during the reign of the invincible Catholic Kings, Their Majesties King Philip V and Queen Isabel Farnesio”.)
The factory had a secret room where the tinning was conducted. At the peak of its production life, it employed some 200 workers. As the process of elaboration was unknown in Spain at the time, some thirty technicians from Germany had to come to the factory under the supervision of two Swiss engineers; Pedro Menrón and Emerico Dupasquier.
Some accounts tell that the German technicians had to be smuggled out of Germany in barrels as they were prohibited from leaving the country from fear that other countries would become competitors in this industry. Apparently, camels sent by the Spanish government in Madrid were used for transporting the goods instead of donkeys and mules, as they sport superior strength. Sadly, the factory went bankrupt due to the intense competition of the industry in Asturias and the Basque country.