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ESPARTO

Sorry, image missingEsparto grass was of vital importance to the economy of the southern of Spain in the 19th and 20th centuries. To look at it one wouldn't think that it was of any use for anything, but it was in great demand in Britain for the printing industry (in 1887 Britain imported 50,000 tonnes of esparto from Spain). Mainly produced and handled in the areas of Cortes de Baza, Cúllar and Benamaurel the esparto grass was carried in horse-drawn carts the 150Km to the coast (Águilas Port or Cartagena).

Sorry, image missingThe estate in Cortes de Baza was owned by the Duke of Abrantesy Linares, Count of Águilar and represented the only form of income for the local population. It was rented by a variety of British companies who had large esparto processing plants on the coast, especially Águilas. Labourers were employed on a salaried basas whereas other private estates had other arrangements whereby there were agents who organized the collection and transport.

The GSSR

When the GSSR arrived in Baza on the 16th December 1894, it solved the big problems of transport of the esparto to the coast to the extent that in 1920, The GSSR carried 31,000 tonnes of esparto to Águilas for export.

Sorry, image missingNowadays, esparto has little or no use except for artisanal production of baskets, espadrilles etc. However it is still there covering thousands of hectares, standing regimented in rows and columns as planted many years ago. There is a museum in the area devoted to the history of esparto grass.

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