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  • Writer's pictureJamie Clark

Corrales, Huelva - that village across the Odiel River

1) El Contexto

In 1866, the Tharsis Sulphur and Copper Company (TOS) was formed by the Scottish to extract pyrites within the province of Huelva, Spain.


Jump to the early 1900s - and the TOS had established a new mine directly across the Odiel River from Huelva. Pyrites was the asset around which this new village was created.

They named the village Corrales.

Approximately 200 workers and their families had been relocated to Corrales. One of these ≈200 workers included my late grandfather, David Clark - a mining engineer also from Scotland.

Corrales is situated on the banks of a large marshland. And to get to Huelva, in those days, you had to take a small boat across the Odiel - approximately 500 metres in distance - and with treacherous currents. There was no other way of arriving in Huelva except for making the crossing by boat. In this sense, Corrales was isolated - as not all of the residents had the means to make regular journeys into town.

2. La Familia Clark

In the 1930s, David and my grandmother, Marion (known as Minnie) relocated to Andalusia - but with an immediate and abrupt interruption for WWII in which my grandfather served, they set up more permanently afterwards in Corrales.

One of the driving factors for selecting Corrales over the neighbouring villages was that Minnie enjoyed the pleasures of urban life - shops and cafes - nothing too wild. Just a nice cafe con leche on the Calle Concepción in Huelva. And with a private boat on standby for them to cross the Odiel River, this was an attractive option for her, and also for David - naturally.

The Clark's were just one of three foreign families residing in Corrales. There was John Gall, another mining engineer - and Bill Rutherford, who was the chairman of the company.

From what I have interpreted from my conversations with locals, there was a subtle hierarchical dynamic within the village - which is understandable given that the entire existence of Corrales was initially created by a private company - and thus nearly all residents were also colleagues.

When I say hierarchical, I do not imply racism nor extreme classism. It was just that the higher up you were in the company, the more benefits you received and the more respect you commanded.

Because of the company's existence - combined with the village's proactive spirit - they quickly built three cultural landmarks.

1. The Casino Minero where people could meet for social gatherings

2. The Church where religious people could practise their faith

3. The Cinema where cultural activities such as films and theatre could take place

What else would you need to have in the 1940s to build a sense of community in Southern Spain?

Early exposure to cultural pleasures positioned Corrales as one of the more prominent and educated villages across the river. This confidence and self-assurance paved the way for locals to focus on expanding to other industries: education (building a school) and agriculture (hosting a market).

My grandparents were deeply involved in village life. The house that they lived in was famous for hosting great social gatherings. Minnie would also help people to learn English, and David had an active role in overseeing the wider developments in Corrales.

3. Nuevo Corrales

In the 1960s, the TOS left Corrales and allowed the workers to buy back the houses they had been residing in, previously as a tenant. Nobody actually owned their houses before the company left. As a token of appreciation for the worker's contribution, the houses were sold at significant discounts, allowing the locals to start their post-company life with financial momentum.

Houses were sold to former employees for 1,000€ (modern-day equivalent to ≈50,000€). And if you were not an employee of the company, houses were sold for 4,000€ - a much steeper asking price in those days.

In March 1969, they completed the construction of the Santa Eulalia bridge - now creating the first connection between Huelva and Corrales by car.

And that changed everything.

Fast forward to today (2023), if you came to Corrales, you will see a highly developed town - and it is now merely considered an affluent suburb of Huelva that is conveniently located between the city and the beach. It has become an attractive place to live for families and retirees.

In terms of infrastructure, alongside new large houses, they have added an enormous Aldi, Maxhome, and a Burger King. The cultural and social fabric has changed - and it is probably irreversible.

Beneath the new economic drive of Corrales, there remains a community of locals from the 'good old days' who enjoy reminiscing and spending time together. You can find them playing cards and hanging out at the Casino Minero.

4. Galeria de Fotos


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