My photo-guided, piggy walk to the mines of La Plata — Posadas (Cordova)

Hi folks! I hope this finds you all in good health and spirits, especially in these difficult and troubling times…

Well, I just wanted to share with you some photos of one of my walks — and yes, it does involve mines yet again! But there is a hint of humour in the last few photos, if you’ll bear with me. There is also a brief description of the mining history of this corner of Posadas which you can gloss over, if you’re that way inclined! So here goes…

As you can see, the only inhabitants of this Victorian building at the entrance of the mine are wild trees — or so I thought…)
The architecture from the Victorian era was beautiful though…
…shame it hasn’t been preserved as part of Andalusia’s National Heritage, or even turned into a cafe/restaurant.

I parked my car outside the mining complex then stepped over the wire which served as a gate. (At that point I didn’t notice any warning signs as to the potential danger of this area, i.e. pot holes, hollows and old shafts that had been covered over by a dusting of earth or a few tufts of coarse grass. Just as well I didn’t step on one or fall down a shaft!)

These were the first two buildings I was met with as I entered the complex. And no, I wasn’t wearing my hard hat, though I had brought with me my geological hammer that harked back to my former days as a geologist in England. (Oh, those nostalgic, bygone days!)
By the looks of that great crack in the chimney I should’ve remembered my hard hat!
QUESTION: Can you spot an animal in this picture? (Answer provided by the following photos…)
And here were more chimneys, funnels and a steadily-decaying building. There were lines and patterns of Victorian brick embedded in the earthen floor marking out old pits, former buildings and probably old rails on which carts transported heaps of rock and ore from one spot to another. I was well and truly in my element! (Wish I’d brought a picnic!)
I continued walking up the hill, past the slag heaps, stopping frequently to pick up chunks of rock and stones with glittering, metallic sides, hoping to find my bit of silver, zinc or lead…
Suddenly I heard some scratching and grunting, and lo and behold there was the creature! I continued towards the ‘house’ and as I got nearer, there was now a shrieking mixed with the grunting!
I jumped back in surprise — and so did they!
The sound of my clicking camera startled the wild pigs — they came pouring out of the old windows and doors! I needn’t have felt worried by their presence.
They took one look at me and off they went galloping, kicking up the dried up earth in their wake! It was a funny sight!
Mind you, some of the braver ones trotted the other way, down the hill — which is just where I was going too…
…and this is what I was faced with! Another funny sight — oink oink!
And those that had already reached the bottom of the hill went to recover under the low-growing tree.

So that was my morning’s escapade, and I loved every minute of it! I will repeat it soon, but this time with my hardhat, geological hammer and picnic so that I can spend the whole day there, picking my way across dangerous pot holes, crevices and tottering chimneys, and sitting astride piggy-smelling slag heaps sorting through the spoils — and all to the sound of snorting and grunting. What an ideal day out that would make!

But before I go, I would just like to add a couple of paragraphs about the background of this area, for those of you who are interested in mining and history:

This group of mines situated in the countryside on east side of Posadas was collectively referred to as Los Cinco Amigos (The Five Friends). They belonged to the Calamón Group and they were mined for lead, zinc and silver. Some of them were originally Roman mines, as ancient utensils unearthed from the sites date the first exploitation back to that era.

The first license that granted use for mining was given in 1692. Subsequently in 1900 the English company, The Calamon Mining Company of Spain, exploited the mines, under the direction of John Power. (There was a lot of English mining in Spain during this era, from 1849 to 1920, totalling about 670 British companies, with the lion’s share, about 196 companies, in Andalusia with 28 mining companies in Cordova province itself. As a result, many English installations were set up, such as hospitals, cemeteries, parks, tennis courts etc., many of which still exist today.)

Likewise, John Power, who settled near the mineral port close to the train station in Posadas, built his villa with gardens and a tennis court, and named the complex Los Menestrales (The Craftsmen), although it was popularly known then as Jardin de los Ingleses’ (The Garden of the English).

However, during the First World War production ceased. This was probably due to the fact that the silver blende ores were smelted in conflict zones and there were no other foundries to take them to. Five hundred families in Posadas were left out of work. In 1916 the English company sold the business to the French Mining and Metallurgy Society ofPeñarroya — Société Minière et Métallurgique de Peñarroya, SMMP. (This mining village is situated in the northern part of the Cordova province in the Sierra Morena, about 66 miles as the crow flies. It was also mined extensively for coal and other metals, and consequently this large mining, chemical and industrial centre became a focus for bombing during the war. See here for my slide show of the village.)

Subsequently, due to the after-effects of WW1, such as the reduced market, the problems with transportation etc., these French-owned mines closed for good in 1922, and the associated installations, such as the overhead bleichert tramway and the electric plant, dismantled.

Other important factors for the general decline in British mining and investment in Andalusia as a whole could have been the result of cheap, Australian lead flooding the market; also The Spanish Royal Decree of 1921 required mine ownership to be totally Spanish.

Well, I think that’s a brief overview of these mines. Thank you for bearing with me if you have!

And thank you for visiting me! Take care xxx

PS. If you like what you have read, maybe you’d be interested in reading my illustrated, humorous/factual book: An English Lady in Cordova— the ‘Alternative’ Guide (available from me or from Etsy)