A bit of history
Old photographs reveal that at the end of the 19th century, in the same place where the Nereo Shipyards are located, on the old beach of San Telmo, now called Pedregalejo, ships were already repaired. However, the first shipyard for which there is documentation on the same site is from 1919.
As of that date the facilities belonged to several owners and had several names (Don Pascual, Cabo Páez, Juaristi, Crossa), until 1966 when Juan Antonio Sánchez Guitard bought the concession of the shipyards, transformed the facilities and gave them the name of Nereo, in memory of the Greek god of the sea.
For more than half a century, the Sanchez-Guitard family has been in charge of the shipyards, in one of the most maritime neighborhoods of Malaga, originally, houses erected by the fishermen themselves to be able to live a few meters from the fishing boats.
The fishermen’s neighborhood of Pedregalejo has not lost its essence, it still retains its medium sized houses and Shipyards are part of its identity, to the point that the Andalusian regional administration has protected its activity, the so-called riverside carpentry or traditional naval carpentry , and has declared it a Site of Cultural Interest. In addition, Nereo is recognized by the National Industry Heritage Plan.
However, despite institutional support, as of today its future is not fully secured by a seafront project that would cross it, something that has led the support of the continuity of the Nereo Shipyards, on the same site, from numerous groups and teachers from the University of Málaga, as well as specialists from all over Spain.
As for its current specialization, it has been the evolution of the business itself that has made them stop the construction of fiber boats and return to the classic techniques of the former naval carpenters.
The Galveztown Brigantine
With these techniques, the Nereo Shipyards are currently building a replica of the Galveztown brigantine from the 18th century, the ship in which the Malaga-born Bernardo de Gálvez entered alone in Pensacola Bay, Florida, and dismantled the English forts in order to help the rebels of the 13 British colonies during the American War of Independence, which had the support of Spain. For the construction of the ship, a total of 60 tons of oak wood will be used, part of which will be Virginia oak, which has been donated by the Lighthouse Arqueological Maritime Program of San Agustín, Florida, the oldest city in the United States, founded by the Spanish in 1565.
Precisely, several American universities send students to Nereo Shipyards so they can be trained in the traditional techniques of shipbuilding, which use natural tar made in the mountains of Burgos with pine resin, and is used to glue the pieces of the ship.
The Phoenician ship
The shipyards of Pedregalejo have also recently made a replica of the shipwreck (submerged archaeological remains) of a small 2,700-year-old Phoenician ship, located in the waters of Mazarrón, Murcia. For their construction they have used wood from the Montes de Málaga, fig tree branches tied with ropes and 1,800 olive cloves, also from Málaga.
The execution of this replica has also made it possible to scientifically verify that the measurements (sleeve or width and strut or height) coincide with the current malagueña boat of jábega, formerly used to fish and that today is used for sports competitions.
This coincidence of measures and proportions supports the legend that this boat, the jábega, had a Phoenician origin.
Ecomuseum and workshop-school
The Nereo Shipyards are today a non-profit association that has launched an ecomuseum which, among other things, offers a workshop school in which courses on how to build, design and restore wooden boats are imparted.Students of about 20 nationalities have been able to learn this craft thanks to this ecomuseum.
It also offers workshops on how to make sailor knots, ropes and sardine skewers, the traditional way of roasting fish in Malaga.
In addition, Nereo is the shipyard of the Traditional Navigation School, associated with the ecomuseum, where you can participate in sailing competitions, sport fishing and rowing.
Guided tours of the shipyards can be made for up to 25 people (retirees, tourists, couples, families, schools).
You can make an appointment over the phone at 952 29 11 98 or ask for information by emailing: email@example.com. In any case, due to the open nature of these facilities, if they are open do not hesitate to enter. You’ll be welcome.
Article written by Alfonso Vázquez, journalist at “La Opinión de Málaga”
Photos: Javier Fernández