Edmund Sykes Hett was the father of The GSSR in spite of never having been a director of the company. As the only bidder for the Granada - Murcia railway on 26th November 1884, he won the rights to the concession and was instrumental in the creation of The GSSR by investing his own money - the sum of 601,000 pesetas for the auction (about 3 million pounds in today's money) and then raising investment in The United Kingdom. Thus, on 15th December 1885 The GSSR was born.
He had already created the company 'Hett, Maylor and Company Ltd.' on 4th February 1885 with his friend and relative by marriage John Maylor. So, on 27th September 1887 Hett, Maylor and Company signed a contract with The GSSR to build the line.
Edmund Sykes Hett was born in Bawtry, Yorkshire in 1832 and left the UK in 1850 to find his fortunes in Brazil. He was involved with the set up of the company 'Wilson, Scott & Hett' at the tender age of 18, which was very profitable. A branch of this company built the first dry dock in Rio de Janeiro. He was described as being 'opulent' and at the age of 49 in 1881 had retired to become a promotor of railways and was in Spain in 1885 when on 22nd March the Railway Gazette reported that he had applied for the Granada - Murcia - Águilas concession. He probably rued this decision later.
There doesn't seem to be any records or photographs of Edmund being in the area whilst The GSSR was being constructed so maybe he never saw his railway finished.
The photograph on the right is of the Hett and Yarrow families together in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1862. Hover over a face for information.
Edmund Sykes Hett was born in Bawtry, Yorkshire on the 21st March 1832, to James Keir Hett and Maria Hett (née Townend) being one of nine children who included Henry Herbert and Edward Keir. He was named after his maternal aunt's husband, Edmund Sykes, as the couple had no children. The name of 'Edmund' appears in more than one Sykes pedigree, no doubt in memory of Edmund Sykes of Leeds, the Catholic martyr priest executed at York in 1587.
He married Julia Claudine Yarrow (25th September 1831 - 18th August 1903) on the 19th October 1857 in Río de Janeiro which linked the Hetts and the Yarrows. This act also linked the Hetts with the Maylors as Julia's sister Emily Cornelia Yarrow had previously married John on the 21st September 1854, also in Río de Janeiro.
Whilst in Brazil, he had a serious accident when a heavy piece of timber fell on him as he was helping put out a fire at John Maylor's shipyard where they were building a yacht for the Emperor of Brazil. He felt the effects for the rest of his life and to take up the Spanish project suggests he was a highly motivated man as by this time presumably he had made his money and could have spent the rest of his life relaxing.
Many thanks to Julia Hett for all of her help and the family photograph.
Gustave Gillman takes second place in this list as he was certainly the most important person in the fortunes of The GSSR. He started as the station manager at Águilas Station in 1897 but through his tireless works became involved in the mining areas of Las Menas, encouraging investment in the area. To this end, he saved The GSSR from bankruptcy thus allowing the line to run up until 1984. For his pains, after 14 years of devotion, he was promoted to Director in 1911.
However, what he has left us is a treasure of photography that is an historical record of the times.
He was born in England on 15th June, 1856 and died on 28th February 1922 at the age of 66 in Petrópolis, Brazil. There are a number of houses remaining in Águilas that were his abodes over his time there.
George Henry, 1st Marqués de Casa Loring, Vizconde de la Caridad, was born on 22nd August 1822 in Málaga Spain, to George James Loring (18/11/1771, Hingham, Massachusetts, USA) and María del Rosario Loring née Oyarzábal Herrera (12/10/1799, en Málaga). George and Amalia, Marquesa de Casa Loring, née Heredia Livermore (3/3/1830 - 16/10/1902), married in Málaga in 1850. They had nine children. George died on 11th February 1901, approximately eighteen months before Amalia.
George and Amalia were very interested in the arts and sciences, nature and archaeology. They created the famous Botanical Gardens in Málaga. He was also a successful railway engineer and businessman. He was responsible for the construction of a large part of The GSSR (Lorca - Zurgena) and it is unfortunate that the business arrangements became acrimonious due to Hett, Maylor's insolvency. George had many contacts in Spanish law, government and the courts and didn't take kindly to The GSSR being unable to pay him for works completed. In the end, he resorted to strong-arm tactics and used workmen to block the line between Huércal-Overa and Zurgena. This was a very serious problem for The GSSR. At this time the section between Almendricos and Zurgena was finished but because of Loring's blocks the GSSR couldn't open it and therefore not receive the government grant which was paid by section.
Eventually, the problems were resolved in a meeting in London between Loring and the board of The GSSR.
He was also a shareholder in The Esparto Trading Company
Anthony John Mundella (28 March 1825 - 21 July 1897) was an industrialist, scientist, inventor and liberal politician. He was Chairman of The GSSR in the early days of the company from 1889 to 1890 and involved during the construction period of the line. On his death at the age of 72 he was, by today's standards, a millionaire. He is buried in Nottingham.
A full obituary can be seen here.
George Lee Boag was born on 11 July 1873 at 48 Bath Street, Hulme, Manchester, the eldest child of Ernest Gerald Boag and his wife Sarah. See also Faydon. These were humble beginnings and Bath Street has now been redeveloped and the house no longer exists. George had to leave school and start work to support his family as his father died in 1885. George worked for The GSSR from 5th August 1907, firstly as deputy General Manager under Ambrose P.S. Jones and then on the 9th February 1913 as General Manager. Presiding over The GSSR during very trying times, he worked very hard to maintain the workings of the company. He was hugely respected by his staff and worked hard for their benefit. A keen sportsman, he initiated football and tennis in Águilas. His humanity shines through in a letter he sent to his employees:
"Unfortunately, the urgent needs that I have described will affect many long-serving employees. I suffer to realize the hardships that this will bring to people who I have known for years and know as friends rather than employees. I would have wished that I did not have to come here, but you will understand that I am only doing my duty and cannot run from this hard task."
While still General Manager he developed Parkinson's Disease which, at the time had no pharmaceutical treatment except anticholinergics (ironically, levodopa was first synthesized in 1911 but not used as treatment for this debilitating disease until 1967). As a result, in 1931 he spent some time in hospital in Southport, possibly having brain surgery which was the only treatment at the time. Something must have happened to ameliorate the disease as in the same year he married Eleanor Shaw, a nurse much younger than he and they travelled to Spain to live in his house by the sea in Águilas and for him to continue as General Manager until 1936. He retired in June 1936, just in time to avoid the trials and tribulations of The Spanish Civil War.
After this they moved to Southport for a short period, then to Harrow and then later to 23 Hillside Road, Southport. The house was presumably new when they moved in (as was the house in Águilas) as it is of the style built in the 1930s. He died on 22nd October 1947. Eleanor passed away in the 1970s.
The photograph on the left, taken in 1925 on the steps of his house was after he had been awarded a medal of merit by Águilas Town Hall for services to the community and for his humanity. The label was pinned onto his lapel by his 17 year old niece Mary (on his right) who was staying with him for a year. On her right is the Mayor of Águilas.
For more information, see the excellent website by Don Gaunt.
William Reierson Arbuthnot Junior
William Reierson Arbuthnot Junior was one of the first directors of The GSSR from 1887 and served until 1910, when he resigned.
He died on the 23rd June 1938.
Hanbury Barclay (of Barclay's Bank fame) was a director of The GSSR for one year in 1887. Perhaps he decided to get out when he saw the problems that were looming. In addition, he was the managing director of The Granada Railway in 1894.
W Goodwin Barnes
W Goodwin Barnes was one of the first seven directors of The GSSR in its inception in 1885. Like the others apart from Davies, he only stayed one year. He was a peer of the realm and the father-in-law of Alfred Fernandez Yarrow.
Adolf Baron von André
Adolf, Baron von André was a trustee of The GSSR in 1890 along with Anthony John Mundella and William Reierson Arbuthnot Junior. He was a baron and self-made-man, mainly through business in Hong Kong, whereby he was the Chairman of The Hong Kong Bank. He created a business with William Mendel called André & Mendel & Co., which funded large stores such as Harrods, Dickins & Jones and D H Evans.
Henry Borrel was The GSSR Company Representative at Calle Cervantes 44, Madrid between 1894 and 1913. His duties were liaison with the Spanish Government and he was heavily involved in the early years during construction negotiating with the authorities. Not an enviable job.
Sydney O. Browne
Sydney O. Browne was The Manager of Material and Traction for The GSSR from the 9th October 1907.
Please see Alejandro Marín García.
On the 15th September 1913 Mr P. Churchill took up the post of Resident Engineer for the Company Board.
Juan de la Cierva
Juan de la Cierva was the Murcian lawyer who saved The GSSR (along with many others) by outmaneuvring The Marquis of Casa-Loring. It is possible that he was the father of Juan de la Cierva y Cordoníu, the famous Spanish aviator who invented the autogyro.
Sir James Ferguson, 6th Baronet was the Chairman of The Board of Directors of The GSSR in 1886.
Luis Figuera y Silvela
Luis Figuera y Silvela was an engineer and the representative of the 'Compañía de Águilas' which was a French company heavily involved with mining in the Águilas area as well as the owner of Águilas Port. He was instrumental in developing the port in 1884 to the extent that it could be used for the loading and unloading of ships.
Edmund Batten Forbes
Edmund Batten Forbes was a director of The GSSR between 1910 and 1924 (when he died on 17th February 1924). He was born on 25th December 1847. He married Charlotte Christina Agnes Wauchope in 1885. Unlike some of the directors, he actually visited The GSSR. On the 12th October 1909 he visited The GSSR staying until the 21st December to advise on the terrible problem with water quality as he was an expert on the subject having resolved problems in Chile, Mexico and other places.
John Robert Gillman
John Robert Gillman (Jack), the son of Gustave Gillman, born 26th February 1883, was the last General Manager for The GSSR, in 1936. It was his bad luck that this was during the Spanish Civil War, so that on the 5th September 1936 the 'Railway Worker's Council' assumed control of The GSSR. The poor chap was arrested and sentenced to death by the Republicans, The GSSR being in a Republican stronghold almost until the end of the war. The following is reproduced with the kind permission of my friend Don Gaunt:
Mr Haigh was Company Secretary from 1947 until the end in 1951.
Mr Harrison was a director of The GSSR from 1904 until 1926 when he died.
Captain R Henderson
Capt Henderson was a director of The GSSR between 1926 and 7th November 1951 when the company was dissolved.
Edward Keir Hett
Edward Keir Hett (born 1845) was one of the first seven directors of The GSSR from its inception in 1885 until 1887. He was the youngest brother of Edmund Sykes Hett as well as Henry Herbert and six other siblings. His parents were James Keir Hett and Maria Hett (born Townend). He married Margaret Christina Hett (born Heywood) in 1868 when he was 22.
Henry Herbert Hett
Henry Herbert Hett (born 11th October 1842, Kensington, London) was the brother of Edmund Sykes, Edward Keir as well as six other siblings. His parents were James Keir Hett and Maria Hett (born Townend). He was one of ten directors of Hett, Maylor & Co. Ltd.
George Winfield Higgin
George Winfield Higgin was employed by The GSSR as representative in Spain in about 1888. George opened an office in Lorca for the inspection of works under Juan Santamaría del Pozo. He only seems to have been working in Spain for a year.
Mr Higgs was a director of The GSSR between 1935 and 1947 when he resigned due to ill health. He was also Company Secretary from 1928.
Ambrose P. S. Jones
Ambrose P.S. Jones was General Manager of The GSSR office in Águilas between 1911 and 1913. There are still some documents with his signaure extant.
Mr Judd was the Company Secretary of The GSSR from the beginning in 1885 until at least 1919.
Neil Cameron Kennedy
Neil Cameron Kennedy (1851 - 1930) was one of the two General Managers of The GSSR at Águilas Head Office, the other being R.C. Ogilvie, from 1890 until 1895. He had been working in Spain since 1872 on the construction of mainly mining railways in areas such as Huélva and Bilbao. His work for The GSSR was mainly involved with the development of the line, which wasn't opened to Baza until 1894.
August Lecoq was one of the original engineers to work on The GSSR, for the company Hett, Maylor.
Thomas Nicoll Leighton
Thomas Nicoll Leighton (30th Sep 1846 - 26th Mar 1909) was one of the first ten directors of Hett, Maylor & Co. Ltd. He was born in Dundee and described himself as a businessman.
Jeffrey Inglis Leighton
Jeffrey Inglis Leighton (1843 - 1908). His brother was Thomas Nicoll Leighton. He was one of the first ten directors of Hett, Maylor Company Limited.
Richard (Ricardo) Lewis was the first Manager of the Workshops and Stores. He arrived in Águilas in the March of 1888, well known to Mr Kennedy, he being the Manager of Construction. His first job was to be in charge of the construction of bridges, under the orders of George Bulmer. This work gave him innumerable problems, the least of which was getting materials on site when there were no roads, sometimes having to construct an access road first, sometimes bringing materials across ploughed fields. Many times he had to walk from Lorca to Almendricos (25Km) and then on to Águilas (20Km). One time he was passed by Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Bulmer on horseback who, seeing his predicament, ordered him a donkey on which to travel. In September of 1888 he was charged with managing the assembly of the locomotives and other material that had arrived in the port. He was manager of the department until 1910, when he retired at 60 years of age. He died on the 16th February 1923 aged 73.
James Livesey C.E. (11th May 1831 - 3rd February 1925) was an engineering architect who made many plans for The GSSR, including those for the first Gor viaduct, many stations, and the El Hornillo loading pier. He was the husband of Sarah Ford Livesey.
Miguel Lloret Baldó
Miguel Lloret Baldó worked for The GSSR in the Commercial Department in the approximate period from 1898 to 1920. He was with Gustave Gillman the day in 1898 the Company paid the sum of 120,000 pesetas to two miners as recompense for perceived damages due to expropriation of mining land. The most important thing to historians is that he contributed a column to 'El Boletín' (the Company magazine) called "The Great Southern of Spain Railway Company" thus giving us much information regarding the history of the Company.
Alejandro Marín García
Alejandro Marín García was a mine owner and had the concession for a mine in The Sierra de Aguión called Quien Tal Pensara (Who would have thought it), and Francisco Carrasco owned the neighbouring mine San José. As can be seen from the map, The GSSR ran straight through the mine concessions. Up until the arrival of The GSSR, the mines were effectively unproductive due to the costs of transport to the beach at Los Terreros 4 kilometres away. Instead of realizing the wonderful benefits of having a railway on their land, they took out legal action against the railway company which dragged on for many years, finally costing The GSSR 110,000 pesetas (about £585,000 in today's money). See the translation of El Boletín on this subject.
John Maylor (10/6/1827 - 5/11/1887) along with Edmund Sykes Hett created the company and was one of the first ten directors of Hett, Maylor & Co. Ltd. He knew Edmund from about 1855 when he was an engineer in charge of the Marine Arsenal in Rio de Janeiro and shared quarters with him. They became firm friends. In 1857, Edmund married Julia Claudine Yarrow which meant that Maylor and he were related as Maylor had married her sister, Emily Cornelia in 1854, both in Rio de Janeiro. This also made John and Edmund the brothers-in-law to Thomas Alexander and Frederick John Yarrow and cousins-in-law to Alfred Fernandez Yarrow.
One of the first directors of The GSSR from 1900. A merchant. Died in 1917. This is the only record that can be found.
Robert Mercer was one of the first seven directors of The GSSR as well as being an engineer for the company. In addition, he was one of the first ten directors of Hett, Maylor & Co. Ltd.
Henry Andrew Micklem
Colonel Henry Andrew Micklem was a director of The GSSR for 37 years from 1914 to 1951 when the company was wound up. He spent most of his adult life in the British Army being seriously injured on a number of occasions. His Winchester College entry says:
Perry Fairfax Nursey
Perry FairfaxNursey was one of the original seven members of The GSSR Board of Directors. He was President of The Society of Engineers in 1886. Interestingly, he was listed in the Certificate of Incorporation of The GSSR on the 17th December 1885 as President of The Society of Engineers. Presumably he already knew that he had been elected.
Robert Charles Frederick Ogilvie
R.C. Ogilvie was one of the two General Managers of The GSSR at Águilas Head Office, the other being Neil Kennedy. Mr Ogilvie was more involved with the general running of the company.
Charles Hunter Pearson
Charles Hunter Pearson was a director of The GSSR between 1924 and 7th November 1951 when the company was wound up. He was chairman from approximately 1935 to the end.
Richard Popkiss was a director of The GSSR from 1917 to 1935 when he died.
One of the first Directors of The GSSR between 1900 and 1914. Declared as a secretary to Public Companies. He was replaced by Col. Micklam.
Ivo Bosch Puig
Born in Areyns de Mar, Barcelona in 1852, Ivo Bosch Puig became wealthy as a financier. He invested heavily in railway construction and was involved with the construction of the Baza to Guadix section.
Henry Atwell Purdon
Henry Atwell Purdon (1857-1927), the son of an Irish railway engineer was the General Manager of The GSSR between 1894 and 1897. His wife, Effie died in January 1897 and it is presumed that that is why he resigned and returned to The UK. There are a number of documents extant signed by him.
Roberto Robert y Surís, Marquis of Robert
The family of Roberto originated from Llagostera in Catalonia. He was born in Barcelona on the 15th January 1851 and was a politician, aristocrat, financier and businessman. In 1871, he became licenced in Law but dedicated himself to finance, becoming president of the Barcelona Board of Trade, Industry and Shipping and of Banco Hispano Colonial. In recognition of his achievements, Pope Leo XIII conferred him the Marquisate of Robert and in 1891 the Queen María Christina (wife of Alfonso XII) conferred the Marquesado de Serralavega. During his life, he gained many more accolades.
Sir George Russell, 4th Baronet was a director of The GSSR in 1886. He was born on 23 August 1828 the son of Sir Henry Russell, 2nd Bt. and Marie Clotilde de la Fontaine. He married Constance Charlotte Elisa Lennox, daughter of Lt. Col. Lord Arthur Lennox and Adelaide Constance Campbell, on 5 March 1867.
He held the office of Deputy Lieutenant (D.L.), was a practising barrister and held the office of Recorder for Wokingham. He held the office of Judge of the County Court (Circuit No 49) between 1874 and 1885 and the office of Member of Parliament (M.P.) (Conservative) for East Berkshire.
Alejandro Santamaría de Paz
Alejandro Santamaría de Paz was the Medical Director of The GSSR in Spain. He was responsible for the healthcare of up to 900 railway workers and their families as well as for the training of first aid to volunteers who subsequently passed the St John's Association exams. He was present on the two occasions of major accidents, the one at Pulpí where he attended many injured passengers. He was a great friend of George Boag, they both enjoying motorcyle outings together on days off.
Juan Santamaría del Pozo
Juan Santamaría del Pozo was born to Alejandro Santamaría and Basilia Santamaría (born del Pozo).
He married Catalina Santamaría del Pozo (nee de Paz y Estrada in Rambla (Granada)).
They had 2 children: Alejandro Santamaría de Paz (who became the Chief Medical Officer of The GSSR) and one other child.
Eduardo Argenti Schülz
Eduardo was the chief engineer of The GSSR in the early days and was responsible for getting the approval for the Águilas to Almendricos section. He built a beautiful beach house at La Carolina, now sadly a ruin.
Chas. J C Scott
Chas. J C Scott was a director of The GSSR in 1887.
One of the original directors of The GSSR from 1900. He died in 1901.
Robert Maughan Taylor
Robert Maughan Taylor (1868-1896) worked for a short time in 1888 for The GSSR.
Gerard Phillip Torrens
Gerard Philip Torrens was one of the original directors and Chairman of The GSSR from 1900 to 1904 when he died. He was born on 10th April 1852. He was declared physically unfit to enter the Indian Civil Service so from 1872 to 1875 he was employed on the construction of railways in Sweden as well as The East Argentine and Bolivar Railways in South America, returning to England in 1876.
Thomas Webb was a Welsh colliery proprietor, probably connected with David Davies. He was one of the first seven directors of The GSSR on it's inception in 1885 but only stayed that year.
Mr Wood was a director of The GSSR between 1901 and 1903 when he died. He was not replaced.
Edward Woods was a director of The GSSR in 1887.
Alfred Fernandez Yarrow
He was born on the 13th January 1842 to Edgar Williams Yarrow and Esther (née: Lindo). His first marriage was to Minnie Florence Franklin, daughter of Frank Franklin and Theodosia (née Balderson). He married again in later life Eleanor Cecilia, the daughter of W Goodwin Barnes on the 2nd December 1922. In addition, he was cousin-in-law to both John Maylor and Edmund Sykes Hett and cousin to Thomas Alexander and Frederick John Yarrow. See also Graces Guide.
Alfred Fernandez Yarrow died on the 24th January 1932 at the age of 90.
Frederick John Yarrow
Frederick John Yarrow (1844 - 1928) was one of the first ten directors of Hett, Maylor & Co. Ltd. He married Eliza (nee: Guthrie) in 1872. He was the brother of Thomas Alexander Yarrow and cousin to Alfred Fernandez Yarrow as well as brother-in-law to John Maylor and Edmund Sykes Hett.
Thomas Alexander Yarrow
Thomas Alexander Yarrow (29th March 1846 - 15th January 1912) was one of the first ten directors of Hett, Maylor & Co. Ltd. He was brother to Frederick John Yarrow, cousin to Alfred Fernandez Yarrow and brother-in-law to John Maylor and Edmund Sykes Hett.
All images - beware, large file
Baldwin (Babwil) locomotive
Boag, George - photographs
Botanical gardens, Loring
British Cemetery, Águilas
Caloric - ship|
El Hornillo loader
El Hornillo Museum
Films made in Guadix
Gardens, Botanical, Loring
Granada - Guadix
Gustave Gillman's houses
Houses - Gustave Gillman
How a locomotive works|
How a locomotive works - images
Las Menas - images
Lloret Baldó translation
Los Canos Loader
Los Canos Loader
Map Tesorero cable
Neilson locomotive, Águilas
Problems - Legal
Puig, Ivo Bosch
Sugar factory - Benalúa
Sugar factory - Caniles
Sugar factory - Guadix
Talcum mines - Somontín
Tesorero cable map
Viaduct - Gor
Viaduct Gor - first viaduct
Viaduct Gor - history