Many visitors to, and residents of, the western-most part of Andalucia are not aware of the strong English legacy that exists in Huelva.
In the town of Minas de Riotinto, there is a whole neighbourhood of British houses dating from the Victorian era, called Bella Vista, which includes a church and sports club with tennis courts. In Punta Umbria, there is an area of beach houses, called Punta de los Ingleses, where one of the holiday homes built for the mine company staff is now a museum.
In addition, many important buildings in Huelva city – such as the Casa Colon, a former hotel where many Rio Tinto visitors stayed, now used for exhibitions, and the Barrio Ingles (or Barrio Reina Victoria), another area of British houses which still remain – are part of the visible testament of this important pseudo-colonial period.
The mining company Rio Tinto was, from the mid-19th to mid-20th century, a major economic influence in the province, providing employment, as well as education and medical care, for many Huelvans.
With this in mind, the Tourism Department of Huelva’s City Council has organised a programme of English-themed activities during March.
Its tourism councillor said: “La huella inglesa no solo es una de los elementos que mas interes despierta entre el visitante, sino que ademas es un rasgo differencial de la oferta onubense que queremos promocionar”
(The mark left by the English, as well as being of great interest to visitors, is also something which sets Huelva apart from the other regions.)
These will include an English-themed (the Onubenses are a little geographically over-specific; many Scottish and Welsh also worked for the mining company) photographic competition, where members of the public are invited to take photos using their mobile phones. The photos have to be about “El Legado Ingles” in Huelva capital.
Other events are still to be announced, but there will special theatrical visits by schoolchildren to the Sala del Legado Ingles de Visitantes Puerta del Atlantico (somewhere I confess I have yet to go, but I have a feeling that this month that situation will be rectified).
The youngsters will be guided around the visitor centre by the character, Hugh Matheson, who was president of the Rio Tinto Company from 1873 to 1898. He will tell anecdotes and interesting facts to the Huelvan school children.
Look out for more events on this theme during March, which will be added to our Events section on andalucia.com