Cristalería Española in Arija (Burgos). Showcasing a factory town from 1906
Author: Josu Aramberri
The French company Saint Gobain set up its first factory in Spain to the north of Burgos, near the border with Cantabria. It was engaged in the production of flat glass, both polished (‘glace’) and stamped. The company town followed the model established by the corporation: a factory town which included, alongside the industrial buildings and warehouses, residences and homes for the workers (managers, engineers, employees, shopfloor workers, and even pensioners), boys’ and girls’ schools, chapel, railway station, Civil Guard barracks and consumer cooperative.
The facilities of the company Cristalería Española in Arija remained in operation for a little under 50 years, from 1906 to 1952. Production and workforce were then relocated to a new factory in Avilés (Asturias).
Other companies engaged in the extraction of silica sand continued to use the industrial warehouses, while demolishing those buildings that were of no use to them. The urban section, though, the civil buildings of the company factory town, remained practically intact. The industrial settlement of Arija, together with other similar developments across Spain and Europe, could serve to showcase and restore the urban development model of the glass industry, by recovering and reusing its buildings.
The presentation made at the International Congress on Worker Settlements and Factory Towns held in October 2018 may be found here