What to see in Corcubión

Corcubion, land of calm and bravery

Cultural Heritage

Salting factories

Industrial heritage

As Santiago Llovo Taboada explains in the first pages of his book As salgaduras de Carnota, at the beginning of the 19th century it was common to call the salting factories sardine warehouses or sardine factories. This was because the sardine was the main product that contributed to the economic development of the Galician coastal area, although others such as conger eel, hake or octopus were also dried and smoked.

In the transformation of our coast, the so-called Catalan promoters had a lot to do with it. They arrived in our estuaries as early as the middle of the 18th century. At first they came only to work during the sardine’s season, and returning to their land with the product produced. But at the end of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th century, the Catalans started to build companies to exploit the sardine and they settled in Galicia building stone salting factories, although, at the beginning, they settled in places where there was already some fishing activity and they had good defence, as it was the case of Muros, Fisterra or Corcubión.

A traditional salting construction used to have the house in front, the salting presses on one side and the pressing system on the other, separated by a space that was called claro. When the boats and galleons stranded on the beaches or docked at the small piers, the fish was carried to the salting presses, which were initially round and made of wood, but later, with the arrival of the Catalans, they were made of large granite slabs.

The traditional Galician system of preserving sardines in salt required removing the head and the guts from the sardines one by one, although the salting process was different depending on their purpose: if it was for the sailor's own consumption and his family, it was salted and left in the presses until it was consumed; if it was for sale, after cleaning and washing it, the sardine had to be in the presses with salt for twenty-four hours and then it was placed in the barrels in layers alternating with salt and without being pressed. However, with the system introduced later by the Catalans, it was not necessary to clean the sardine, but it was placed whole in the presses that were half-watered with salt (what is clear is that with either system a large amount of salt was needed). After the sardine had been in the presses in brine for the corresponding period of time, it was extracted, washed and winded; it was then introduced into the barrels in an orderly fashion and then pressed.

As for the salting factories in Corcubión, it is known that there were at least four in the area of Quenxe, one in Boca de Sapo, one on Lobeira Grande Island and several in the village. What is not known for sure is if all of them worked, as it is the case, for example, of the building that until a few years ago housed the Seno de Corcubión Maritime Museum. This building was initially built as a salting factory, but there is no evidence that it worked as such.