Edmund Sykes Hett was the father of The GSSR in spite of never being a director of the company. As the only bidder for the Granada - Lorca railway on 26th November 1884, he won the rights to the concession and was instrumental in the creation of The GSSR by investing his own money and then raising investment in The United Kingdom. Thus, on 15th December 1885 The GSSR was born.
He had already created the company 'Hett, Maylor and Company Ltd.' on 10th June 1885 with his friend and relative by marriage John Maylor. So, on 27th September 1887 Hett, Maylor and Company signed a contract with The GSSR to build the line.
Edmund Sykes Hett was born in Bawtry, Yorkshire in 1832 and left the UK in 1850 to find his fortunes in Brazil. He was involved with the set up of the company 'Wilson, Scott & Hett' at the tender age of 18, which was very profitable. A branch of this company built the first dry dock in Rio de Janeiro. He was described as being 'opulent' and at the age of 49 in 1881 had retired to become a promotor of railways and was in Spain in 1885 when on 22nd March the Railway Gazette reported that he had applied for the Granada - Murcia - Águilas concession. He probably rued this decision later.
There doesn't seem to be any records or photographs of Edmund being in the area whilst The GSSR was being constructed so maybe he never saw his railway finished.
Edmund died on 15th March 1901 at the age of 68 - one month after George Loring.
Gustave Gillman takes second place in this list as he was certainly the most important person in the fortunes of The GSSR. He started as the station manager at Águilas Station in 1897 but through his tireless works became involved in the mining areas of Las Menas, encouraging investment in the area. To this end, he saved The GSSR from bankruptcy thus allowing the line to run up until 1984. For his pains he was promoted to Director.
However, what he has left us is a treasure of photography that is an historical record of the times.
He was born in England on 15th June, 1856 and died on 28th February 1922 at the age of 66 in Petrópolis, Brazil. There are a number of houses remaining in Águilas that were his abodes over his time there.
George Henry, 1st Marqués de Casa Loring, Vizconde de la Caridad, was born on 22nd August 1822 in Málaga Spain, to George James Loring (18/11/1771, Hingham, Massachusetts, USA) and María del Rosario Loring nee: Oyarzábal Herrera (12/10/1799, en Málaga). George and Amalia, Marquesa de Casa Loring, nee Heredia Livermore (3/3/1830), married in Málaga in 1850. They had nine children. George died on 11th February 1901, approximately one year before Amalia.
George and Amalia were very interested in the arts and sciences, nature and archaeology. He was also a successful railway engineer and businessman. He was responsible for the construction of a large part of The GSSR and it is unfortunate that the business arrangements became acrimonious due to The GSSR's insolvency. George had many contacts in Spanish law, government and the courts and didn't take kindly to The GSSR being unable to pay him for works completed. In the end, he resorted to strong-arm tactics and used workmen to block the line between Huércal-Overa and Zurgena. This was a very serious problem for The GSSR. At this time the section between Almendricos and Zurgena was finished but because of Loring's blocks the GSSR couldn't open it and therefore not receive the government grant which was paid by section.
Anthony John Mundella (28 March 1825 - 21 July 1897) was an industrialist, scientist, inventor and liberal politician. He was Chairman of The GSSR in the early days of the company and involved during the construction period of the line. On his death at the age of 72 he was, by today's standards, a millionaire. He is buried in Nottingham.
A full obituary can be seen here.
George Lee Boag was born on 11 July 1873 at 48 Bath Street, Hulme, Manchester, the eldest child of Ernest Gerald Boag and his wife Sarah. See also Faydon. These were humble beginnings and Bath Street has now been redeveloped and the house no longer exists. George had to leave school and start work to support his family as his father died in 1885. George worked for The GSSR from 1913 - 1936 firstly as deputy General Manager under Ambrose P.S. Jones and then General Manager. Presiding over The GSSR during very trying times, he worked very hard to maintain the workings of the company. He was hugely respected by his staff and worked hard for their benefit. A keen sportsman, he initiated football and tennis in Águilas. His humanity shines through in a letter he sent to his employees:
"Unfortunately, the urgent needs that I have described will affect many long-serving employees. I suffer to realize the hardships that this will bring to people who I have known for years and know as friends rather that employees. I would have wished that I did not have to come here, but you will understand that I am only doing my duty and cannot run from this hard task."
While still General Manager he developed Parkinson's Disease which, at the time had no pharmaceutical treatment except anticholinergics (ironically, levodopa was first synthesized in 1911 but not used as treatment for this debilitating disease until 1967). As a result, he spent some time in hospital in Southport, possibly having brain surgery which was the only treatment at the time. Something must have happened to ameliorate the disease as in 1931 he married Eleanor Shaw, a nurse much younger than he and they travelled to Spain to live in his house by the sea in Águilas and he continued as General Manager until 1936. He retired in June 1936, just in time to avoid the trials and tribulations of The Spanish Civil War.
After this they moved to Southport for a short period, then to Harrow and then later to 23 Hillside Road, Southport. The house was presumably new when they moved in (as was the house in Águilas) as it is of the style built in the 1930s. He died on 22nd October 1947. Eleanor passed away in the 1970s.
The photograph on the left, taken in 1925 on the steps of his house was after he had been awarded a medal of merit by Águilas Town Hall for services to the community and for his humanity. The label was pinned onto his lapel by his 17 year old niece Mary (on his right) who was staying with him for a year.
All images - beware, large file
Baldwin (Babwil) locomotive
George Boag - photographs
British Cemetery, Águilas
Caloric - ship|
El Hornillo loader
El Hornillo Museum
Films made in Guadix
Granada - Guadix
Gustave Gillman's houses
Houses - Gustave Gillman
How a locomotive works|
How a locomotive works - images
Las Menas - images
Los Canos Loader
Neilson locomotive, Águilas
Puig, Ivo Bosch
Sugar factory - Benalúa
Sugar factory - Caniles
Sugar factory - Guadix
Talcum mines - Somontín
Viaduct - Gor
Viaduct Gor - first viaduct
Viaduct - Gor history