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History of Valverde del Camino

HISTORY OF VALVERDE DEL CAMINO

Valverde del Camino has traditionally been a resting stop for travellers crossing the province of Huelva from the ports on the coast to the Sierras in the north, and onward to Extremadura.

Its origins date back to the time of the construction of a farmhouse and an inn and lodging for merchants and couriers. This inn was known as, Facanías, a name apparently of Hebrew or Arabic origin

In 1369, in the founding charter of the county of Niebla, Facanías is documented. In 1481 the name Facanías was changed to the current, Valverde del Camino, referring to the roman road that passed by the town. As a consequence of  the issuing of land concessions relating to the expansion of the Dehesa Boyal, the population reached 100  in 1503. Since only the head of the family was counted in those days tha actual populations must have been about 350.  

By 1591 there were about 1,000 inhabitants. The growth of the population gave rise to the first streets in an irregular layout and steep slopes following the terrain.

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, Valverde del Camino was still dependent on the nearby town of Niebla. However in 1732 the village gained its independence and  was formally granted the status of a ‘town’  by King Felipe V. This was with the approval of Niebla and the Lord of the County, the Duke of Medina Sidonia.

Throughout the second half of the nineteenth century many foreign, especially British companies, set up in the province of Huelva to mine for copper and pyrite. A small British community settled in Valverde del Camino to undertake the construction and later the operation of the first mining railway in Spain. It ran from the mine of Castillo Buitrón to 30km the north of Valverde del Camino  down to the quay at San Juan del Puerto. This operation was managed by the engineer, James Bull and we some years before the better known Rio Tinto mine Railway.

The inhabitants of Valverde del Camino used their knowledge of traditional footwear leather-wortk combined with modern production methods turning the village into an example of industrialization. It became the primary Andalusian producer of footwear and also furniture industry and other crafts that had disappeared in other places.

All this activity left a legacy in Valverde del Camino which features the only Victorian house in Spain (dating from 1876), as well as the original railway station, currently restored as a music conservatory, plus the old railway workshops that now host a trade fair and the housing for the company’s English staff, on Calle Real de Arriba.

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