The Great Southern of Spain Railway Company Ltd was a British company set up in 1885 to build a railway line between Granada and Lorca
The Great Southern of Spain Railway Company Ltd
Although the Great Southern of Spain Railway Company was formed in 1885, it was not until October 1887 that the first steam locomotive arrived at Aguilas by ship. In November of the same year the first track and other equipment arrived in Aquillas port.
The company was immediately faced with its first problems.
Spain did not have the heavy industrial machinery required to manufacture steam engines, railway lines, rolling stock or any of the other bits and pieces that are needed to make a railway line. Almost everything had to come from Great Britain, France and Belgium, by ship, to a small fishing port in the Mediterranean, Aguilas.
All the engines that arrived at Aguilas had to be re-assembled in workshops located next to the railway station before being put into service.
Then the company encountered its second problem The roads from Aguilas, leading inland, were little more than dirt tracks. The Company had to construct decent access roads to a standard that would enable the movement of the heavy equipment along the route in order to build the line and stations.
The work was contracted out to a subsidiary company, Hett, Maylor & Co. Ltd., formed in 1885, who, in turn subcontracted the work to the Marquis of Loring, who had experience building railroads in Spain and Mr August Lecoq, a gentleman who had a large metal construction company in Belgium.
Despite the initial problems, the work went on at an impressive pace and on the 1st April 1890, the first section of line, from Aguilas to Almendricos via Jaravia, and Pulpi was opened.
This first section of the line included a particularly difficult stretch called Puerto de los Peines. In only 4.6km there are five tunnels and a bridge as well as the need for deep cuttings and huge embankments.
It was to prove too difficult for Hett, Maylor & Co. Ltd. who went bankrupt towards the end of 1890, the costs of building the line having far exceeded estimates.
This stretch of line also proved fatal for ten people on the 25th May 1927 in what proved to be the worst accident on the line.
An iron ore train, pulled by an engine named Bacarese was waiting at Almendricos to proceed down the single track line towards Pulpi. There is an incline down towards Pulpi, 200 metres in ten kilometres.
In front of Bacarese was a mail train with an engine called Albox.
When the train pulled by Albox arrived at Pulpi, a message was sent back to Almendricos informing them they could release Bacarese.
As Bacarese steamed down the incline from Almendricos, its brakes failed and the train started to pick up speed. The driver blew his whistle continuously, a recognised emergency signal, to warn the staff at Almendricos who telegraphed ahead to warn the staff at Pulpi.
Albox left Pulpi under full power but, faced with the steep incline up to Puerto de los Peines, was unable to gain enough speed to outrun Bacarese that ploughed into the rear of the Albox train.
Seven people died immediately and three more later, and there were more than twenty casualties twelve of whom were seriously injured.
The engine Bacares, a brake van, 2 coaches, 2 wagons of esparto grass and nine 35 ton iron ore wagons were destroyed.
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Almendricos station, just over the Andalucia/Murcia border in Murcia, was an important station. This is where the branch line down to Aguilas met the main line running from Baza to Lorca.
In its day it was an extremely busy station with the mineral trains from Baza being reversed into sidings so that they could continue to Aguilas whilst the Baza to Lorca trains carried on through.
A turntable was installed to make the shunting operations easier, there being no rail triangle.
Meanwhile work had been progressing on the Almendricos to Lorca section of the line and on the 20th July 1890, Lorca Sutullena, the second largest station on the line was officially opened.
Work could now concentrate on the Almendricos to Baza section of the line.