Friday, 11 July 2014

The Glass factory

If you have ever been near the railway station in Jerez, you have probably wondered what the three very tall chimneys nearby belonged to. Well, they belonged to the Fabrica de Botellas, the bottle factory, known to all as “La Jerezana”. On the 28th November 2009 it closed its doors for the last time.

On the 22nd June 1895 two Frenchmen, Antoine Vergier Jeune and Andres Bocouze asked the Jerez council for permission to build a glass factory on that site. Permission was granted on the 25th June 1895. This must be one of the fastest planning decisions in history, but the council recognised the important creation of employment in very difficult times. Phylloxera was beginning to ravage the vineyards and people were starving.

La jerezana with its iconic chimneys
The plan was to make bottles and plate glass, for which would be required: ovens, chimneys of 30-35m height, forges, stores, metal workshops and the necessary ancillaries. The site was ideal being beside the railway, as goods could be easily despatched and coal brought in. The factory was built by the end of the same year by architect Rafael Esteve, and it conformed to all the regulations governing industrial buildings, especially in its distance from the centre of population in case of fire, explosion, noise, pollution etc. In only about a year from the proposal, the factory was up and running.

La Jerezana was not the only glass factory in the city. There was another called “La Constancia” which was located near the bullring close to the urban railway, and owned by Manuel Fernandez. It occupied the site of an older glass factory of the same name. Two glass factories underline the importance of the Sherry industry in the XIX and XX centuries. Sadly, with that very industry’s declining fortunes in the late XX and early XXI centuries, both factories are now gone. La Jerezana is still used for light industry, and the great chimneys remain as a reminder of a great past.

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