The San Rafael Sugar Factory Torrox

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If you've ever wandered down from Torrox Pueblo to Torrox Costa, you've most likely noticed, about halfway down, an old ruined factory with a massive chimney rising up from it. If, like me, you've ever wondered what it was, do some digging on the internet, and you'll soon discover it's an old sugar factory. But this isn't just any old factory. It has a very long history, dating back almost 500 years.

Known as the San Rafael Sugar Factory, it stands as a testament to the town's rich industrial past and reflects the changing winds of ownership, technology, and economic forces that dominated this part of Spain in the previous centuries.

The factory's roots can be traced back to the 16th century, with documents mentioning its construction by the Morisco Melilla family as early as 1530. By the mid-1500's it was functional. However, a rebellion in 1569 led to its destruction.

The factory rose from the ashes in 1725, rebuilt and this time powered by water wheel technology.

Over the centuries, the factory's ownership changed hands. In the 18th century, figures like Miguel Gijón y León and businessman Tomás de Quilty y Valois took ownership. They implemented modernizations, including a new pre-industrial technology and a switch to coal as the energy source.

The 19th century saw another transformation under Martín Larios y Herreros's ownership. He funded a complete industrial overhaul, incorporating a steam engine while retaining the water wheel for grinding mills for some time.

The San Rafael Sugar Factory thrived for centuries, producing sugar from sugarcane. At its peak under the Larios family, the factory produced an impressive 220,000 kilograms of sugar annually. However, this era of prosperity ended in 1945, marking the closure of the factory.

The reasons for its decline are not entirely clear, but likely involved a combination of factors such as evolving market conditions and increased competition. Today, the San Rafael Sugar Factory stands in ruins, a reminder of Torrox's industrial past.

The local town hall had expressed interest in restoring the factory to highlight its historical significance, but no plan of action has yet been proposed or even discussed at a high level.

So, while its future remains uncertain, the San Rafael Sugar Factory continues to hold a significant place in the town's heritage.

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Contact

Casa Elana
Calle Pontil 1
Torrox Pueblo 29793
Malaga Spain
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Tourist Licence: VFT/MA/55769

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