Our History

El Arsenal was a factory which used to convert the natural resources in the area: the abundant esparto grass and the limited wood of the local mountains.

The industrial treatment of both raw materials was started in El Arsenal, at the same time, in 1908 and was maintained until 1970, when the timber activity was closed down. The activity concerning the esparto grass had finished ten years before. Later, the old factories were used by a small company working with metal and by different traditional workshops related to the construction sector. The wood and the esparto grass are, then, the most characteristic elements in the history of this place and of many people from this town, Jumilla, who worked there.

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In the pictures shown, made by Baños in 1950, we can see the pine logs piled up before being converted into pieces for containers and packages, their only possible use due to the low quality of the Mediterranean wood. With the sawdust, a poor gas engine generated some electricity used to meet the company’s demand. For many years, the same generator occasionally provided light to different activities in the town, during the periods when the electricity was limited.

The esparto grass arrived from the mountains at the piles. From these piles, it was put into the pools where it was fired for about fifteen days. After these days, it was put on the floor to be dried, in the big areas next to the factories. Once it had been dried, it was smashed in the corresponding machines to separate the textile fibers from the vegetable husk. The smashed esparto was sent to the spinning mills, very few in Jumilla but many in Cieza and, above all, in Valencia. The esparto industry was a logical victim of the synthetic fibers, rubbers and plastics; but, for many years, it was very important for the local economy. Firstly, because the town council in Jumilla was the main owner of the esparto fields in the area. Secondly, because many people got their salary from this industry, both collecting the esparto in the fields and treating it in the factory. The esparto crisis, at the end of the fifties in the last century, was one of the reasons which forced many people from Jumilla to abandon their homeland and look for better professional opportunities.




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