Ferrol - Urban History
'A Tale of Two Cities'. The Memory of Ferrol, between the Navy and the Working class.
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Chapter 3

'El Ferrol del Caudillo' (and II)

More than a half of that growth corresponded to the population of the adjoining town called Serantes, which Ferrol annexed in 1940. The extra land meant that the city now spread beyond its walls.53 The suburban development work was carried out round the 'Castilla Road', renamed 'Generalísimo' Avenue (another honorary title given to the dictator). At the end of 1940s, Recimil, a new working-class neighbourhood, sprang up on one side of the 'Generalísimo Avenue' and just outside the city a thousand council houses were built. The connection between the Avenue and La Magdalena was made by building a magnificent 'España Square'.54 It was surrounded on all four sides by elegant buildings housing institutional headquarters and homes for the Navy and Army officers, as well as for the Shipyard managers.

In 1959-64 some equestrian statues were built in honour of Franco in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Santander. These statues showed Franco full of vitality at a moment when the physical degeneration associated with old age was starting to appear. In 1964, a 'Commission for establishing a monument dedicated to Caudillo Franco' was organized on the initiative of the 'Casino de Ferrol'. The monument was financed by popular subscription. The bronze equestrian statue, which showed the dictator wearing the uniform of Commander-in-Chief of the Army, was made in Bazán. The metal came from the propellers of an old warship, and the statue was inaugurated in 'España Square' in 1967.55 Spatial segregation was once again present: on one hand, around 'España Square', the city of the Navy and the middle-class, and on the other, the working-class city, in the adjacent neighbourhood of Recimil; and the statue of Franco standing between both of them.

But hardly five years later, in 1972, the first consequences of the international economic crisis, as well as the first steps for the industrial rationalization became evident in Ferrol. Besides, the agony of the regime was taking place, as the dictator approached his own death, and political parties and trade-unions of the opposition began making early tentative moves. On 10th March, Bazán workers demonstrating outside the Shipyards were shot at by the police. The result was two dead workers and sixteen wounded. The strike spread to the factories, shops closed, and the police took control of the streets. 'España Square', which was a symbol of the dictator's generosity, would from then on be associated with memories of repression. In 1974, this new symbolic meaning was endorsed by the decision of the pro-Franco town council to establish a statue dedicated to Camilo Alonso Vega, a native of Ferrol, lieutenant-general of the Army, an expeditious man on whom the dictator liked to rely to coordinate political repression. Moreover, shortly after Franco's death, the town council decided to fix a big bronze plaque on the podium of the equestrian statue, where his last will was written and he guaranteed that his regime would outlive him.

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