S.PEDRO DA COVA
THE ANTHRACITE MINING INDUSTRY
The historical importance of S.Pedro da Cova and it’s anthracite mines can be easily understood by tracking it’s origins.
Historical references can be found as far as 1134 (D.Teresa – donated of the terrain to the hermits of S.Pedro da Cova), later in 1379, Afonso III concedes to the Bishop of Oporto, te civil jurisdiction over the “Couto de S.Pedro da Cova, no Julgado de Gondomar”. In 1460, a decision from the Oporto city chamber revoked the intentions of the Bishop to control the area.
The first reports of anthracite in the region are recorded in 1795, when Manuel Alves de Brito brought to daylight one or two layers of anthracite in a place called “Enfeitador” (Everdosa) in S.Pedro da Cova. It was the foundation of the modern coal exploration in Portugal, and the start of a tremendous important industry that would have a total lifespan of 170 years just in this region, with a high impact not only on the social side, but also in the economics of the region, strategic placement, relevance and ultimately, environmental, clearly seen in our days by the huge mountains of black earth / debris surrounding the main shaft.
The mine structure of S.Pedro da Cova
The shafts were named after saints or people’s names, the deepest shaft, S.Vicente, had a depth of 157 meters and became the main mine shaft. Remarkably equipped, the headframe, a concrete structure with 38,5 meters above the mine remained one of the landscape symbols of S.Pedro da Cova to nowadays, and classified as “Public Interest Monument” as declared by the government in 2010 in it’s official journal .
Despite the classification, the structure and also all the mine complex is at the present days mostly abandoned and in degradation, nevertheless, a place to visit to all of us who enjoy seeing places that are part of our industrial history.
To know more about the mines and it’s cultural importance consider visiting it’s museum.