Volume Four of Then, There Were Mines, is all about the men who lived, worked and sometimes died in the Almagrera mountains.

Author’s Notes:


The winter 2021 Covid 19 lockdown gave me the opportunity, and the time, to write the Volume 4 that I had been wanting to write for long time. Information gathered for it was to be found scattered through the notebooks for previous volumes, snippets and snatches that needed pulling together and making into a coherent whole. This is the volume about the human, and indeed the inhuman, aspects of the Almagrera’s story.


If the abuse of the men, and of the children who followed in their footsteps so many years ago, makes for uncomfortable reading today, please don’t imagine that such things belong to the past. Modern, green technology is not as kindly as it purports to be. It all requires the mining of minerals, and in many countries, the conditions of the men, women and children who win them, are as appalling today as those of described in this work.

So many of those who came to work in the mines were peasants who became miners. This plurality shaped the work pattern and allowed the mine owners to become rich at the workers’ expense. There was little need to invest in technology when so many were willing to endure hard, physical work for such little reward. And why provide them with anything better than the abysmal living and dangerous working conditions that they were used to?


Chapter One Ghosts of the Ghost Towns

Men flocked to the Sierra Almagrera to work in the mines, dressing floors and smelt mills. Some came from other mining districts, others were fugitives or refugees, but the majority were peasants. These men left their homes, families and smallholdings and came in search of paid work, often bringing their oldest sons with them.

Where some of them lived is surprising, as there is nothing left of the large settlement on the coast to indicate what once stood there. The poblado minero, or miners’ settlement, of El Arteal is still, just about, standing. The ghosts of Franco’s Spain still haunt it, and not for nothing was it known as Korea.

Read on below or click here to download the pdf.


Note: Whilst the author has tried to identify and attribute copyright holders to illustrations and photographs, she would be grateful for information about those where this has not been possible and would be glad to rectify any such omissions in future editions. She may be contacted on her site.

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