Just a short twist-the-ankles and stub-the-toes from the beach of Barreiro, lurk some of the industrial remains of this small city. They are well hidden by the Spring greenery, but the tall mill towers give it away
Situated on the opposite side of the Tejo from Lisbon, this city was a hub of tide mills, cork factories, fabric mills, ship and train production, explosives and even chewing gum.
Going back to the age of discoveries this area was a key place for ship building. It is pretty certain that Vasco da Gama came here to oversee the production of his ships. And he was certainly here in June 1880, when his bones, along with those of Camões, were transferred to the Jerónimos monastery. They arrived in Barreiro by train and were then transported ceremonially across the Tejo to Jerónimos.
Life here has changed through the centuries, with windmills left to decay, factories closed and much industry relocated.
This site has had a varied history, owned in its early days by a gold merchant responsible for establishing many of the tide mills in town. In the early nineteenth century, he sold this mill to Venceslau Braamcamp, and it became known as Moinho do Braamcamp. He expanded the number of tide mills and also developed a farm for the creation of silkworms.
Moinho do Braamcamp, Barreiro, Portugal, March 2020
After his ownership it passed to his son and later went through a number of changes of hands, and an almost matching number of changes of uses. It was home to a cork factory, a biscuit producer, and had a number of other industrial uses.
It has been through tough times since the second World War, and the cork factory was finally made insolvent in 2008. It was then left to its own devices, with its dilapidation speeded up in 2011 by arson, which destroyed several buildings and killed the palm trees.
The area has since been acquired with the intention of renovation and repurposing, but progress is awaited. For now, it sits there in an attractive position, with views across to Lisbon, and is well worth some exploration.
I was delighted to discover Barreiro – an interesting town so close to Lisbon. If you’d like a local to guide you around the area, including these industrial remains, pop over to Lisboa’te Tours, where Raquel will be happy to give you a tour.
Copyright Debbie Smyth, 31 March 2020
Posted as part of Monday Walks