Reed and bulrush huts

Reed and bulrush huts
1950-1960. San Roque Station, San Roque (Cádiz). Women and children in front of a reed hut. Note that the building has two opposing doors. Source: ‘Historia de San Roque en imágenes’, Facebook Group

Reed and bulrush huts

When La Línea became a municipality it consisted of several masonry houses and a cluster of humble dwellings made of wood, bulrushes and reeds, according to documents of the time. It is very likely that these dwellings were huts such as those in the photo, taken almost a century later. They are built from local materials like bulrushes, reeds and clay, and their structure is similar to that of the Valencian hut. Sometimes they were whitewashed on the outside.

Until the 1970s, this kind of home still existed on the periurban areas of the region which are semi-dunes or marshlands, and where reeds and clay deposits are common. Such is the case of San Roque Station, Puente Mayorga and La Atunara.

Rafael Pérez was born in a reed and clay building where his parents and grandmother lived, in a neighbourhood called La Colonia de Puente Mayorga. This kind of hut was the only house available to residents in this neighbourhood:

«There must have been sixty or seventy families in bulrush homes and a few more in stone houses. Our hut was like an Indian hut. You wet the clay and put it on the wall. We had a kitchen, a bedroom and a patio with reeds.»

The neighbouring shops were built using the same materials. Rafael remembers: «Later on we set up a small shop with things my dad brought from Gibraltar and the shop was also made of bulrushes and clay».