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Lord Brassey: an English Man in Arbus

Sardinia is an Island rich in history and one of the most fascinating and rich periods is that of the 19th Century, where the South Western side of the Island played a key role in Italy’s Industrial Revolution through its’flourishing mining industry. In fact, among the characters involved in the history of Sardinian mines there is an English man, Lord Brassey, mine owner between the 19th and the early 20th Century. Several of his buildings are now important landmarks in the Arbus landscape.

He was born in 1863, son of Baron Thomas Brassey. Before becoming Lord, Thomas Allnutt Brassey was a member of the English Parliament and the mayor of Bexhill on Sea. This did not prevent him from entering in the Sardinian Mining Association in 1896, and becoming president in 1914, after buying the GennamariIngurtosu  mines and having expanded them with an investment of about 400.000 liras (about one and a half million Euros).

Lord Brassey was well-liked by everyone and it is said that sometimes, when he visited one of his mine, he loved to have lunch with the  workers. His car was one of the first in Sardinia and the people who saw it for the first time called it sa carrossa chentz’e is cuaddus (the coach without horses in Sardinian language), having examined it from all sides, to see where the horses were hidden.

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When you are on holiday in Sardinia, on the road to Piscinas beach, you will see several ruins of old buildings, and be surprised to discover that a lot of them were built for the English Lord Thomas Brassey. We will visit these sites where our local guides will share their intimate knowledge of these key sites vital to the fabric of Sardinia’s social history.

Villa Idina Brassey was the residence of the Lord and his wife during their stay in Ingurtosu. It is a rectangular-plan villa of three floors in the western facade, and two in the eastern. The core of the residence consists of a square building enclosing a small internal cloister that is lit by a glass roof. The villa opened with large windows and doors, and with a long veranda on the ground floor, looking to the beautiful landscape of the hills sloping down towards the long beach of Piscinas.

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As evidence of Lord Brassey great commitment in Naracauli, the mineral washing building that bears his name. Inaugurated on October 17, 1900, it is still standing  and its’ architecture is so beautiful that it seems a cathedral. Lord Brassey was also responsible for the construction of a number of workers’ villages throughout the Is Animas valley, hospitals, schools ,public buildings and the church of Santa Barbara in Ingurtosu, dedicated to the patron saint of miners. At the foot of the steps leading up to the church access is a monument to Lord Brassey, who died leaving no heirs in 1919 in London, after being run over by a cab in Westminster.

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