Ferrol - Urban History
Building a frigate in a shipyard (c. 1750)

The people who worked in shipyards and dockyards were called the 'maestranza'. They were organized in trades, and it was not an easy task to discipline them. Indeed, discipline was made even more difficult owing to the arrears of several months' payment, a situation that would grow steadily worse towards the end of the eighteenth century. The paralegal practice of picking up 'scraps' - surplus pieces of wood - became an essential complementary income, as it allowed workers to obtain immediate funds. But this fact might conceal larceny, which was the authorities' nightmare together with the shirking of duty and insubordination. Sabotage was easy in dockyards where combustible materials abounded, and pamphlets containing threats of arson were common weapons in labour disputes.

Manuscrito del Marqués de la Victoria, © Museo Naval de Madrid