Huts, peasants and workers housing

Huts, peasants and workers housing
The 1950s. Map minute MT50 which locates Los Hurones dam construction site, the Hurones town (downstream) and the cluster of huts in El Rodadero (upstream), with a layer of the modern topographical map highlighting the reservoir. Minute and map from the 'Instituto Geográfico Nacional' (Spain) © Beatriz Díaz Martínez

Huts, peasants and workers housing

Huts (named locally chozos or chozas) were the main traditional dwelling in the area until the early 1970s. Most peasant families who lived scattered in the mountains and nearby ranches, whether shepherds, farm hands, coalmen or gardeners, lived in huts. María Delgado was born in 1947 in a hut made of broom a few kilometers from Algar, her brother spent some years with his grandmother in a hut in El Majar de Ruiz and the family also lived in a broom hut when they were working in Los Hurones.

During the early years of construction, many workers arrived in the area and rented a room temporarily in Algar, travelling to work every day along the service road in the only lorry the company had. Soon other members of their families arrived and shared the same room, or, with luck, a rented house. In 1953, with Los Hurones town just built, some of the workers with no family had a place in the hostelry or at the hostel. The workers with a family who were not allocated in the town opted for a hut near the site. By self-building their own hut, worker families could compensate for the low pay and lack of transport, and also avoid the separation of the family, which provided personal and communal stability.

There were workers’ huts several kilometers around the dam. Three more defined sites were: one on the left bank of the river and downstream a few kilometres from the town; another on the right bank and upstream in the area called El Rodadero, immortalised in the topographical map above; and a third one six kilometers further upstream near El Cabezo quarry.