Los Larios, a dynasty that modernised the Campo de Gibraltar
Digging into the past of Campo de Gibraltar brings up many surprises. There are amazing stories that reveal the previous splendour of the area. One of them is the saga of the Larios Family
The Larios family left their mark on the Campo de Gibraltar and Gibraltar, having a tremendous importance on the economies of both regions. Its members also ‘Anglicised’ the region by introducing social and sporting practices previously unknown in the rest of Spain, such as polo and fox hunting.
The family also built spectacular luxury mansions with landscaped gardens in British colonial style; some of which have survived the test of time to this day.
The first in the Andalusian branch of the Larios Family was Pablo Larios y de las Heras, who was twice widowed and moved to Málaga, when the city was experiencing boom time.
Pablo Larios settled down with his four children (Manuel Domingo, Pablo, Martín, and Juan). After the death of Pablo, the family split up into two branches: Manuel Domingo and Juan remained in Málaga, and Pablo and Martín settled in Gibraltar and Cádiz, where they formed societies called ‘Marín Larios, Lasanta y compañia’ (Cádiz) and ‘Larios Hermanos’ in Gibraltar.
Pablo Larios y Herrero de Tejada, born in 1793 in Laguna de Cameros (La Rioja), was the first of the Larios family to settle in Gibraltar where he married Jerónima Tashara y Cheli and had eight children. Larios bought the Club House Hotel from Isaac Cardozo, the building which is now the City Hall in Gibraltar.
The family focused its efforts on commerce and banking in Gibraltar, and in agricultural and forestry properties and associated manufacturing and processing industries.
The Larios were the biggest landowners in Campo de Gibraltar, and in 1869 they began purchasing massive farmlands.
In 1887, the Larios of the ‘Sociedad Industrial y Agrícola de Guadiaro’ (SIAG) incorporated 329 of their existing farms with assets in the agricultural colonies of San Pablo and Tesorillo, as well as in San Enrique de Guadiaro and San Luis de Sabinillas.
They continued to buy large areas of land in Campo de Gibraltar, becoming Europe’s largest landowners, with more than 17,000 hectares.
They also bought up mortgages and unpaid loans, including those of the sugar industry of San Luis de Sabinillas, the mill of Gaitán, and some farms from Jimena.
In 1888 they opened the cork factory near the San Felipe breakwater in La Linea, which was the first cork industry of its kind in Spain.
In San Roque, in 1895, they acquired the Cortijo de la Cruz, the Cortijo de Las Cañadas and in 1896 the Cortijo de La Alcaidesa.
The ‘Casita de Campo de San Martin del Tesorillo’ was the first residence of the Larios family in Campo de Gibraltar. There, they organised hunts and celebrated with lavish parties and banquets attended by nobles, politicians, bankers and well-known artists of the time.
In 1898, the siblings Larios Sánchez Piña bought an estate in Guadacorte where in 1902 they built an English colonial styleluxury mansion. It had stables, a race course, hunting kennels, a jetty for rowing and fishing competitions, a polo field, and a golf course. Hunts were organised with dignitaries from Great Britain and the Campo de Gibraltar.
Another colonial-style mansion was also built by the Larios in los Barrios, Campo de Gibraltar, by Monte de la Torre on the La Almoguera estate.
The most emblematic of their grand colonial-style mansions was the Hacienda de Gomares y el Cobre, in Algeciras, where they also built another mansion which no longer exists. In the last years of his life, Pablo Larios, who was married to Josefa Fernández de Villavicencio, lived the in the Palacio de Marzales, built in 1929 on the San Bernardo de Algeciras estate.
NOTE: This report is a collaboration between Reach-Alcance and President of Historical Protection Linense (PHL), Pepe Martinez, who has documented the work of José Regueira Ramos in the Almoraima magazine of the Instituto de Estudios Campogibraltareños as well as Ignacio