The building of the dam and hydro power plant at


in Asturias, (Northern Spain)
Page 1

    Designed by the architect Joaquín Vaquero Palacios, the planning began in the years immediately following World War II, it was built between 1948 and 1953 and it was put into service in 1954. At the time it was the biggest dam in Spain and the second in Europe.
    It seems an impossible project and it says much about those who did it. Spain was bankrupt and under the embargo decreed by the victors of WWII. This project was almost an impossible dream but it was completed in spite of the lack of means. In spite of the embargo, the UK supplied the turbines and generators in secret.
    The preparatory works were of very considerable importance. Tunnels had to be dug to shunt the river while the dam was being built, roads, electric power lines, a 36 Km (22.3 mi) cable transport to bring the clinker from the sea port at Navia, etc. More than 3500 workers came from all parts of Spain, especially Andalusia and several villages were built to house them and their families. Feeding them was a problem in those years of scarcity. About 100 of them lost their lives in work accidents during the construction. It is an admirable feat in any case but much more so if we consider the conditions under which it was done.
      These pages are based mainly in an interesting document which I rescued from the trash. It is an informative brochure dated in 1949 and bound in concertina style. It seems to have been done quite manually with several sheets of paper colored by hand and glued in the form of a concertina.
    Apparently the monochrome drawings were done using the Diazo process (cyanotype) which is what was used at the time to reproduce plans before the advent of more modern methods. It wa a relatively simple photographic process invented in the 19th century. A master was done on semi-transparent paper and the photo-sensitive paper was then covered by this master and exposed to the light. The exposed paper was developed in ammonia which made the processing room stink unless it was well ventilated. There were different processes and they resulted in blue prints or in brown prints as in this case.
    This document was done using brown diazo prints colored by hand and bound into a concertina. It has a total of 13 sheets (26 pages) plus the covers. The dimensions of each sheet are 13 x 30 cm. As time permits I will scan them all and post them here.
Front cover, building the dam at Salime    General characteristics of the dam

Geographic location of the dam at Salime

Profile of the river Navia

Preparatory works for the construction of the dam in Grandas de Salime, Asturias, Spain


    This page last updated September 2, 2004.                   Next Page Link to next page

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Autor: Alfonso Gonzalez Vespa