News from 2022 and onwards..

New (2023) book on air raid shelters in Palma

During the Spanish Civil War, [1936-1939] around 130 air raid shelters were dug in Palma by public initiative to protect the civilian population from bombing by Republican aviation. Their mission accomplished and the conflict over, they closed down and fell into oblivion.

Bartomeu Fiol, who lives in Palma, has studied and explored them for more than two decades of field and archive work that he has summarised in the Atles dels refugis antiaeris de Palma, an ambitious work published by the Palma City Council that includes abundant photographic material, sources documentaries and plans to shed light on some unknown constructions that cover the subsoil of the city and that protected thousands of Palma residents from bombs.

So how does this relate to the railway system? Well, just like the London Tube (Underground) railway, the existing railway tunnels made ideal shelters capable of protecting hundreds of citizens.

The existing railway tunnel in Palma from central station in Plaza de España to the harbour was used as an air raid shelter during the Spanish Civil War. Some new side entrances to the tunnel were built, in order to facilitate the entrance to it from different places located along its route. After the end of the war, the side entrances were closed and the tunnel returned to its original use. In 1965 the tunnel itself was taken out of service, due to the growth of goods transport using big trucks. In the book, Bartomeu Fiol describes the tunnel and its side entrances, analyses the evolution of these infrastructures in subsequent years, and shows what remains of them today.

The book is well illustrated with maps and photographs, some of which were taken by Barry Emmott many years ago. It is written in Catalan which might limit it's appeal outside Mallorca but in any event, it's great to see this facet of industrial and social history so well documented before it is all lost to new construction and the like.

The gallery below shows a few sample pages.

For more information (in Catalan) see here.

(c) of the text and images shown from the book belong to Bartomeu Fiol Coll and are used here with permission.

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