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 4

Between the transition to democracy and the rationalization of the shipbuilding industry (III)

During its time in local power, in 1979-87, the left was unable to oppose the rationalisation policies of Spanish Socialist government, and made only timid attempts to question the memory of the Franco period. The socialist local authority proposed the suppression of the city's name 'del Caudillo', but they did not dare to remove Franco's equestrian statue due to the strong opposition by part of the population led by the Navy officers. Only at the end of their time in office, during 1986-7, did the town council seem to have found a means of paying tribute to its more 'progressive' citizens associated with the defence of the working classes. Two statues dedicated to social reformer Concepción Arenal, and Pablo Iglesias -founder of the Spanish Socialist Party- were situated at the foot of the Esteiro working-class neighbourhood.60 When in 1989, a censure motion brought the left back into power, they decided to dedicate a monument to the workers who died on 10 March 1972: people whose memory had been intensified since the democratic trade unions had named the anniversary celebration as the 'Working class Day in Galicia'. In 1990 the monument in honour of the 'Victims of the 10th of March' would be established in Recimil, the working-class neighbourhood built during the Franco period, which was scarcely 100 metres from España Square. The two statues -that of the workers, that one of the dictator- were placed practically opposite each other, each one in its own neighbourhood.61

In turn, the conservative political forces remain opposed to the idea of those places of memory of the pro-Franco regime being eliminated, and have failed to suggest alternative celebrities which could be commemorated. Only in 1999, during the final period of their term in office, did they opt to erect a monument in honour of González Llanos, the Navy officer responsible for the boom in the shipbuilding industry during Franco's period. It was positioned in the centre of the new residential developments under construction at the time in the former Esteiro, a neighbourhood that was expropriated and demolished in 1974 by the last pro-Franco municipal corporation, claiming its urban deterioration.62 The demolition of Esteiro erased the memory of a proletarian Ferrol; La Magdalena, which everyone associated with the Navy, absorbed the memory of the Ferrol of the Age of Enlightenment. Twenty-five years later, at the end of the 1990s, various political actors started to call for another working-class neighbourhood, Recimil, to be demolished. They claimed that its fifty years of history had plunged it into a disastrous situation.63

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