Industrial heritage in Mexico
Ann Varley takes a new direction
Professor Ann Varley visited Mexico for three weeks in June after presenting a paper, The new informality? Titling, family property and housing commodification, to a session on “Housing Asset Management Across Generations" at the Latin American Studies Association Annual International Congress in San Francisco.
Ann visited a number of nineteenth century industrial heritage sites: textile factories in Veracruz and Puebla, the Mexican National Railway Museum in the city of Puebla, and the important silver mining areas of Pachuca and Real del Monte in the state of Hidalgo. She carried out initial archival research and interviews with heritage experts to support a planned comparison of industrial heritage in Mexico and Chile.
Mexico’s National Railway Museum is housed in the old Puebla station, built with British capital by the first company to connect Mexico City and the port of Veracruz by rail. The station, in what is described as an “English” architectural style, was opened by Mexico’s President Benito Juárez in 1869.
The presence of Cornish miners in the state of Hidalgo from the 1820s onwards is marked by the remains of distinctive Cornish engine houses, a clock-tower, an English cemetery in Real del Monte (with graves oriented towards England), football, and so-called ‘pastes’ – containing traditional meat and potato fillings or some spicier Mexican versions.
Dr Alvaro Sánchez Crispin, who undertook his PhD in UCL Geography in the 1980s, on Mexican mining, kindly took Ann on her first visit to Real del Monte.
Ann returns to Mexico next month to take part in a book launch at the Colegio de México and to carry out further heritage research.