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The Ancient Tannery of "Cal Granotes" and the Irrigation Ditch

In the year 1983, the Town Hall of Igualada, the Museum Service of the Catalonian Generalitat and the Tanners’ Guild of Igualada, acquired the ancient "Cal Granotes" tannery, forming part of the complex of the Anoia District Museum. The Architectonic Patrimony Service of the Bacelona Deputation took charge of its rehabilitation, with its being opened to the public in 1990.

The project for converting the building into a museum has been carried out by the architect Pere Puig. The authors of the project of the museum’s graphics are Jordi Enrich, Magí Puig and Enric Franch, with the design pertaining to the latter’s DPC Studio.

The public Municipal Foundation "Museu Comarcal del Anoia" (The Anoia District Museum) is linked to the Science and Techniques Museum of Catalonia, concerning their monographic sections on Leather and Water.

This is an industrial building dating back to the 18th century, set in the heart of the tanning district, right next to the irrigation ditch; its original distribution has been maintained to show three fully manual and craftsmanship systems of tanning thick hides (ox and cow…) for soles, pertaining to pre-mechanisation of the industry.

The Irrigation Ditch is 3 049 metres long; it collects water from a reservoir on the Anoia River. According to documentation from the 18th century, it belonged to the Abbey of Sant Cugat del Vallés, being used as the Abbey’s flour mill. At the end of the 18th and early 19th centuries, upon their abandoning the medieval walled enclosure, the Tanners of Igualada built the tanneries along the Irrigation Ditch, taking advantage of the water flow for their industry.

The typical buttresses against the tanneries’ facades, a characteristic of the district, have been conserved, as have the stepping stones, "bassots" (ponds), troughs and floodgates.

The Ancient "Cal Granotes" Tannery represents the recuperation of an industrial building that already existed before the year 1763. There is evidence that in the same building, in 1790, there was a spirits distillery. The place was then known as "La Plana del Cornet". Basically, it has two floors which are communicated by a hole in the ceiling known as a hatch through which the hides were taken up. The ground floor, or riverside section (situated below road level to facilitate channelling the water into the troughs) where the tanning operations were carried out, is covered by a total of then crossed "turns" per arris, constructed with a stone and limestone mortar plank moulding, supported on six central square pillars, where it is also possible to appreciate the original pits with tiles. The upper floor, or the drying area, was the place where the drying and finishing operations on the skins were carried out. It consisted in an open area with free airflow and where access was usually attained through a staircase set in the northeast angle of the courtyard. Early on, the tannery was larger, as one part, pertaining to a different owner, is missing. Thus, it is a building of interest in the field of industrial archaeology, characterised by its architectonic simplicity and set within the ancient industrial nucleus of Igualada.

In 1987, the Architectonic Patrimony Service of the Barcelona Deputation carried out an archaeological follow-up of the restoration works. It was through these works that, in the ground floor area, three lime baths were discovered on the west side of the building, with the water deposit in front of them. In the south, four tanning vats with a depth of seven tiles were found. Three rectangular structures of unknown use were also discovered close to the door, and on the east the spin-wheel and the break-down baths were found, situated north of the pits conserved during restoration. The break-down baths were found, situated north of the pits conserved during restoration. The beak-down bath has a floor of rectangular tiles, situated face wise, and the interior of the walls is covered with a black finishing coat. Beneath the cement flooring laid in 1972, a paving covering most of the ground floor was discovered, alternating in some areas with tiles. Towards the year 1917, mechanisation of the tanning process for hides for soles was introduced with the acquisition of a drum installed on the ground floor, due to which the use of pits and break-down baths was abandoned.

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