THE mediaeval town of Salobreña was once famous for the production of sugar. Thirteen sugar factories operated in the area, gorging on sugarcane grown on plantations bordering the Mediterranean coast . . .
But as the tourist industry burgeoned and Salobreña decided to transform itself into a seaside resort (and quite a tasteful resort, it must be said), the plantation owners sold out to developers and the last sugarcane was uprooted about ten years ago.
Nothing much remains of the industry except a few impressive steam engines. These have been removed from the factories and installed on the town’s roundabouts.
According to the paper The Steam Engines in Sugarcane Production in Spain: Comparative Analysis, by José Ignacio Rojas-Sola and José Ramón Ureña-Marín, of the University of Jaen, the engines were of predominantly Scottish and French origin. The two featured here were made in France.
As those of us who lived through the 1980s know only too well, industries come and industries go – while some are obliterated almost overnight and lost without trace in a callous scramble to remould the present.
So it’s gratifying to wander Salobreña’s streets and behold this salute to the past. The sugarcane plantations may have gone, but the memory of an industry lives on.