EL CABLE INGLES - THE ENGLISH PIER
by Fiona Flores-Watson and Saskia Mier
An extraordinary piece of industrial heritage, this railway pier was the loading bay for the mines in Alquife (Granada), which produced iron ore, copper and silver. Its continuing survival despite over 100 years...' constant exposure to the corroding effects of saltwater, is testament to the quality of construction. As well as El Cable Ingles, the pier is also known as El Alquife.
History of the Pier
The 1000-metre mineral loading dock used for the mines in Alquife called “Cable Inglés”, was designed and built in 1904 by Scottish engineers following the school of Eiffel, for Glasgow-based, Alquife Mines and Railway Company.
The railway was used until 1973 to transport minerals 90km by train from the French and British-run mines, and then onto the pier to waiting cargo ships, to be taken to northern Spain and abroad. The trains could travel all the way to end of the pier, making a direct transfer possible into vessels docked alongside it, rather than having an intermediary transfer between the train and ship in the port. Loading an 8,000-ton ship would usually take 8-10 days; this system reduced the time to just 10 hours.
For the construction of the pier, 3,824 tons of steel were used from the Motherwell foundry in Glasgow; as well as 8,000m2 of wood; 1,152 m³ of concrete; and 1,056m of Iberian broad-gauge iron railway tracks. It was inaugurated by King Alfonso XIII on 20th April 1904.
The Pier today
In 1998 it was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest for its historical, symbolic and aesthetic values. Today you can still see the square loading box-chutes, via which the mined materials were offloaded into the ship’s holds, and the winding mechanisms. You can also see storage warehouses for the Alquife mines, in an unusual triangular shape which won it the nickname “the Toblerone”. The pier was renovated in 2012.
Next to the pier is a memorial to 142 Almerian jews who died in the Malthausen concentration camp in Germany in 1939.
Side fact: two Belgian mining engineers, the Siret brothers, discovered Europe's largest Copper Age settlement at Milares near Almeria city in the 1880s.
Located on Playa de las Almadrabillas.