In the last decade of the 18th century were anoticed in Aguilas an increased of the commercial traffic through its port, being at the end of the 19th century when the English companies focus on the commercial potential of its port for the export and Shipping iron ore and esparto on a large scale. The establishment of a permanent British colony impregnated to the village and its inhabitants of a particular idiosyncrasy.
Aguilas and the esparto
For a long time, esparto has been a nearly inextinguishable source of riches in the south and Spanish Levante. During the 18th and 19th centuries, esparto (along with lead) was the most important merchandise exported to France and England for the manufacture of fibre and paper.
Between 1830 and 1850, the Scottish and English paper mills began a frenetic commercial expansion in the south of Spain and North Africa, in search of the raw material.
Aguilas and the mining
During the Napoleonic occupation (1796-1808), French and Belgian companies held the exclusive rights to exploit the mines in Spanish territory. But the War of Independence (1808-1812) permitted the arrival of other foreign companies, especially British, German and Danish.
In 1825 the first mining code was promulgated, included in the Law published on July 4, 1825, known as Ley de El Huyar. This liberalised the mining operations, authorising on one hand the acquisition of small properties for exploitation, and permitting on the other hand export and commercialisation by foreign companies.
Aguilas and Railway
The British investment arrived to Spain in the middle of the 19th century as an answer to the incapacity of the Basque iron and steel industry to confront the construction of railways as complement for its exploitation, which later will facilitate the development of the iron mining.
At the same time, several British iron and steel companies were settled in the North of Spain: Orconera Iron Co. Ltd, Bilbao Iron Ore Co. Ltd, Luchana Mining Co. and the Parcochea Iron Co in competitive with Societé Franco-Belga des mines de Somorrostro.
Aguilas and its British residents
The increase of the trade in esparto and ores which was developed at the two natural harbours of Águilas, one in the West and one in the East, from the second half of the 19th century, meant that different countries with economic interests in the zone, mainly France and the United Kingdom, would establish their consular offices throughout all the coast of the South and Southeast of Spain.