1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ferrol

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FERROL [El Ferrol], a seaport of north-western Spain, in the province of Corunna; situated 12 m. N.E. of the city of Corunna, and on the Bay of Ferrol, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean. Pop. (1900) 25,281. Together with San Fernando, near Cadiz, and Cartagena, Ferrol is governed by an admiral, with the special title of captain-general; and it ranks beside these two ports as one of the principal naval stations of Spain. The town is beautifully situated on a headland overlooking the bay, and is surrounded by rocky hills which render it invisible from the sea. Its harbour, naturally one of the best in Europe, and the largest in Spain except those of Vigo and Corunna, is deep, capacious and secure; but the entrance is a narrow strait about 2 m. long, which admits only one vessel at a time, and is commanded by modern and powerfully armed forts, while the neighbouring heights are also crowned by defensive works. Ferrol is provided with extensive dockyards, quays, warehouses and an arsenal; most of these, with the palace of the captain-general, the bull-ring, theatres, and other principal buildings, were built or modernized between 1875 and 1905. The local industries are mainly connected with the shipping trade, or the refitting of warships. Owing to the lack of railway communication, and the competition of Corunna at so short a distance, Ferrol is not a first-class commercial port; and in the early years of the 20th century its trade, already injured by the loss to Spain of Cuba and Porto Rico in 1898, showed little prospect of improvement. The exports are insignificant, and consist chiefly of wooden staves and beams for use as pit-props; the chief imports are coal, cement, timber, iron and machinery. In 1904, 282 vessels of 155,881 tons entered the harbour. In the same year the construction of a railway to the neighbouring town of Betanzos was undertaken, and in 1909 important shipbuilding operations were begun.

Ferrol was a mere fishing village until 1752, when Ferdinand VI. began to fit it for becoming an arsenal. In 1799 the British made a fruitless attempt to capture it, but on the 4th of November 1805 they defeated the French fleet in front of the town, which they compelled to surrender. On the 27th of January 1809 it was through treachery delivered over to the French, but it was vacated by them on the 22nd of July. On the 15th of July 1823 another blockade was begun by the French, and Ferrol surrendered to them on the 27th of August.