21st March 2014
reminder of Jávea's heritage as a major producer
of raisins has been donated to the 'Museo Arqueológico
y Etnográfico Municipal Soler Blasco de Xàbia'
- the municipal museum - in the form of an old machine
which was used to select raisins. Constructed from wood
and iron and standing almost three metres in height,
the machine is an interesting piece of history and one
of the latest to be preserved in the region. It has
been donated to the museum by Agro Gata SL which was
created from the old 'Cooperativas Agrícolas
Sindicales (CAS)' established in 1960. After cleaning
and renovation, the machine will become part of the
exhibition at the Riurau d'Arnauda in the Parque Montaner
in the trees above the Plaza de la Continue in Jávea.
machine was built in the early 20th century in the Borrell
workshops in Dénia and it was used for various
tasks in the process of handling of raisins. It was
also used in recent years to strip bunches of raisins
and had several interchangeable screens allowing
the selection and grading of raisins. The process was
very simple: raisins, loose or in bunches, were poured
into a hopper at the top of the machine which collected
in a cylinder before falling through a series of large
rectangular screens which separated them. The machine
was powered by an electric motor, although may
have originally been steam-driven, which shook the sieves
by rotary action by means of straps and wooden wheels.
machine will eventually be located at the Riurau d'Arnauda
in the Parque Montaner. The long arched building is
an iconic symbol of the Marina Alta and the region's history
as a former major producer of raisins. Originally built in the second
half of the 19th century in the Roig area of Jávea
between the old town and the port, it is 56 metres long and has
thirty arches, one of the biggest in the Marina Alta. Under threat from urban development after the land on
which it was standing was subdivided into plots,
and despite its deteriorated state, it was deemed worth
saving after the Riuraus Vuis heritage association warned
that there were very few examples left of its size.
With the support of the Català family who owned
it and was once one of the major producers of raisins
that were exported to England, it was moved stone by
stone to its current location almost five years ago. The town hall arranged
for its preservation with the help of 90,000 euros of investment
from the 'Plan Zapatero' which was designed
to boost economic activity. At the time, mayor Eduardo Monfort said that the
project "has saved an architectural piece that is
a sign of identity for Jávea and the region".
of the ruirau was to protect the drying
grapes from rain or dew as they lay on bamboo cane mats
called 'cañizos' after the scalding process.
Generally made of stone with a roof, one side was usually
open generally facing south with a series
of half-circle arches extending the whole length of
the building. Sometimes they were attached to a farmhouse
or cottage, others were built independently.
raisins had been produced in the area since the time
of the Moors, Jávea's economic boom in its production
began in the early 19th century, soon after
the Peninsular War of 1807-1814, part of the Napoleonic
Wars. The town was soon trading with countries as far
away as the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada
and the town grew as the exportation of raisins increased rapidly.
The industry was controlled by a handful of families
who relied on labourers and smallholders to produce
the goods that would largely be sent overseas.
Large storage warehouses were built close to the port,
supplying steamers with merchandise which was transported
to cities such as London, Liverpool and Bristol as well
as other northern and central European countries and
across the Atlantic to North America. The town changed
dramatically during this period. The old walls were
pulled down between 1869 and 1875 as new streets and
building spread out from the centre, built by the wealthy
merchants who were growing rich on the raisin industry.
However, in the late 19th century, faced with foreign
competition from the likes of Greece, Turkey and the
western United States, the raisin industry began to
decline in Jávea. The spread of grape phylloxera
in the early 20th century, the Great Depression and
the Spanish Civil War virtually put paid to the activity
in the town, the industry only continued by a few private
La Seranda in Gata de Gorgos is one of those private
enterprises and every year they open their doors
to the public to demonstrate the traditional method
of making raisins. They also encourage everyone, young
and old, to help them. Click here
to view a video of the process.