Ferrol - Urban History
'A Tale of Two Cities'. The Memory of Ferrol, between the Navy and the Working class.
Beginning Chapters: < 1 2 3 4 Bib >

Chapter 2

Looking for alternatives to social segregation and dependency on the Navy (III)

New forms of management were tried out in 1909, when the Shipyards and part of the Dockyards were rented by a private company, the 'Spanish Society of Shipbuilding', with a British held stake that should have guaranteed the exchange of technological know-how. Together with the warships that the Navy required, the company looked for new clients in the civil sector. In 1910s and 1920s the reform of Ferrol town (electrification, water supply and sewer system) and the construction of a transport system (train, electric tramway and commercial port) were concluded, helping to connect the city to the outskirts and indeed the rest of the country. By 1930 Ferrol had 35,000 inhabitants, and was still the third most important city in Galicia. It was the 'golden age' of a prosperous local middle-class, who, influenced as they were by the innovative ideas and habits of the newly arrived foreign experts, seemed to be able finally to rid themselves of Navy tutelage and to lead a project of coexistence on the basis of the strategies played out by political parties, employers' organizations and trade unions.

But Spain went a different way. After the Hispano-American War the Spanish Navy received the new mission of assisting the Army in struggles against civilians, either in the Rif War in Morocco, or in order to put down any form of social conflict in Spain. Between 1910 and 1920 strike followed strike, and the Army and trade unions confronted each other openly on the streets of Ferrol. In 1918 protests against the high cost of living broke out as hundreds of women raided food warehouses and forced prices to be lowered. In 1921, the deputy mayor who also was the President of the local employer's organization was murdered in La Magdalena.43

The Dictatorship of Primo de Rivera (1923-30) imposed a provisional truce, as the ambiguities of the local policies of memory clearly show. In 1927, the council government dedicated a plaque to the founder of Spanish socialism Pablo Iglesias, and gave his name to a square in Esteiro, where he was born in 1850.44 Some months later the council authorities unveiled another plaque dedicated to two military men at their native house in La Magdalena: the Franco brothers. Francisco Franco was an army general, and a leader among the veterans of the Rif War in Morocco. In 1926 he had visited Ferrol where he was hailed as a national hero. The 'Industrial and Commercial Circle' made him their honorary president, and the president of the 'Casino [Social Club] of Ferrol' proposed the creation of a monument dedicated to the people from the city who had died in the 'Africa War'.45 The tributes paid to Pablo Iglesias and Francisco Franco involved two very different policies of memory: the former corresponding to a working-class city with close ties to the socialist internationalism, and the former to a military city committed to colonial ventures.

Pages: < 1 2 3 4 >