Why am I interested in The GSSR? Well, that is the fault of Don Gaunt and Kevin Borman, both of whom have written excellent books on the story of The GSSR and who are guilty of stimulating my interest in this fascinating subject. So, am I a geek, or a nerd? I don't think so. My fascination with The GSSR is due to the amazing effort that was required to overcome the huge technical problems of the mountainous countryside. The fact that they had to bring most of the hardware from Britain is an indication that there were huge hurdles to overcome. The fact that all of the bridges are still extant is a testament to the quality of construction. When one walks the track, one can only be impressed by the work that was involved in creating the cuttings and the embankments, which were legion, and one has only to walk the routes to appreciate the amount of effort that was required to create this railway.
Architecturally, I find the stations and the bridges beautiful. The artisanal skills in creating the bridges, considering the depredations of the time, I find impressive.
All of the photos on this website were taken by me, obviously except the monochromes. I am overwhelmed by the ancient technology that allowed hundreds of tons of iron ore to come down from the mountains over seven kilometres away on steel cables. I have nothing but admiration for the men who put everything, including their souls, into the construction of the mines in Las Menas and Bayarque and of The GSSR.
When I walk the track and visit the mines of Las Menas, I can feel the ghosts of the men who toiled to support their wives and families in a time when starvation was a very real possibility. When I look at the cuttings and embankments that were created manually, before the days of the JCB or Bobcat, I am in awe of the amazing groundworks that were executed over nearly 150 years ago, by pick and shovel. The belief that Hett and others had in the possibilites of creating a railway in a remote and wild area that, in the day, was not unlike the contemporary Wild West of America. The Almanzora Valley is my stamping ground and I love it, the people, the countryside, the way of life, but I would never be sufficiently insane - even if I were a multi-billionaire - to try to build a railway through this territory. Most of the route (I won't say track, as that was removed in the late 1990s) is either cutting or banking, or tunnel, or bridge. See the images - there aren't many of track on flat level ground!
This also brings up the question of whether Edmund Sykes Hett ever did any market research regarding the profitability of a railway in the 'Wild West' of Andalusia or whether he was just overtaken by the idea. History shows that The GSSR was never really profitable, and that the investors lost everything. Perhaps The GSSR should be considered another means by which Britain donated money to Europe.
Please have a look at Don Gaunt's website www.faydon.com. He has written an excellent book on the subject of The GSSR as well, but unfortunately, it is out of print.
Kevin Borman has written two excellent books on life in Almería, Flamingoes In The Desert. and Where Hoopoes Fly. Both books are superbly written and researched and give one an authentic flavour of Spain.