How it all began
Max Kite shares his memories
When, in 1998 I was asked by Francisco Granero Granados, the then mayor of Albox, to open an office for the British speaking residents of Albox and the area, including Almanzora, Arboleas etc I agreed.
I was allocated an empty room in a building near to the police station so spent some time setting up material for visitors. I had a number of textbooks about building etc and brought them down to try to start a rudimentary library.
The little mayoral office gave me access to the photocopier, so I decided to produce a little (very little) newsletter to be able to inform people about the existence of the International Office (there was no internet at that time). I wrote and printed the newsletter on my PC and took it to the office to be copied. I can’t remember exactly where I left the newsletters, but I imagine that it was in a number of bars.
Things were much different then. Nowadays, Albox is like little Britain (no reference to the TV show, however…) but in those days there weren’t many British living in the area. When my family and I came out, there were about seven families in the whole area. We were known in the Tuesday market as ‘Los Ingleses’. I imagine that there are some seven thousand British families living here now, not seven!
By the time that the International Office had opened, the British population of the area had ballooned, supplying a conveyer belt of people with problems needing attention. Most were as a result of unscrupulous “estate agents” selling illegal properties to unsuspecting clients. At this time, I was very fortunate to meet a gentleman called Per Svennson who was involved with a similar, but much better funded organization in Alicante. He came down on a number
of occasions and held ‘clinics’ with ‘clients’ of mine trawling through their escrituras and advising on Spanish law. He was a lovely chap and was of enormous help to me and the visitors. Other problems brought to the office were of a more personal nature, mainly arguments between British neighbours. These were not in my perview.
One amusing event was a chap who was fearful of his estranged wife, who lived many hundreds of kilometres away. I took him to the local police, who couldn’t contain their amusement that a man would be scared of his wife. I guess that times have changed somewhat… maybe.
As the months passed, many kind people brought textbooks for the office for people to peruse, on subjects such as running a smallholding, building etc.
Back to The Albox News, I tried to make it as informative and interesting as possible. There was a section on building in Spain, explaining how to use yeso, concrete beams, concrete blocks etc. There was a chap from Arboleas who regularly wrote a section on the local astronomy, who wrote very interesting and easily accessible articles.
I am in his debt.
When Francisco was reelected, the International office was closed.
On a personal level, I have, in the last few years, made a study of the railway that passed through the Almanzora Valley, that was built by the British. I am sure that you have seen some of the beautiful bridges, to me the most wonderful in the area being that close to Cucador, which one can see on the left when travelling towards Huércal-Overa. By the way, Huércal-Overa never existed before the GSSR railway arrived in around 1890. The station was built in the
remote countryside between Huércal and Overa, and by amazing coincidence, was called Huércal-Overa. Hence, like all of the properties in Alfoquia, they are all less than 140 years old. One can see an old map of the area from 1899 in the website detailed below.
If you are interested in the history of the railway, please look at www.gssr.es which is the only website in the English language that exists on this subject.
It is wonderful that a group has carried on with the help that I started, all those years ago. Albox is now a thriving town, mainly due to the investment from the British who have come to the area to live – a world away from when we first came here and felt like explorers!
How the library started
By Fran Chalmers
Through Max Kite’s newsletters the original Albox Ramblers group was formed. I met Anne and Harvey, the latter being one of our earliest contributors to the newsletter – to do with satellite TV.
Through this group I learned of a couple Jacqui and George Middleton who let their terrace be used for Spanish lessons.
They turned out to be the founding members of today’s Almanzora Group of Friends. We would not be in existence without these huge hearted, hard working and over generous couple.
When the International Office closed, they financed a newsletter. I came along and said I’d like to start a library. They not only let me but helped me, along with others. Thus their home became the first premises for the association.
From those early days, right up to the present time I have always benefited with help and friendship through the group and will continue to do so as long as it exists, this despite how little I gave in return.
The group was always willing to listen to it’s members and serve them. Did you know how many other things got their start through us? The Gardening Club, the Computer Club and the original Car boot fair which was held on Saturdays at the Bar Internacional – to name a few.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my deep felt gratitude, highest praise and thankfulness for all past, present and future volunteers. They are the backbone of the group.
History of Group of Friends
- In 1998 the ‘International Office’ was open every Tuesday morning from 08:00 to 14:00. It was located next to the Policia Local at the top of Albox High Street.
In October 1998 they published the first edition of THE ALBOX NEWS.
- In August 1999 the name changed to the Almanzora Valley Neighbour’s Association and their first newsletter ALMANZORA VALLEY NEWS was published in August 1999.
- In November 1999, due to the effects of numerous earthquakes, the building which housed the Association was closed down, and they moved to the Bar Internacional until May 2000.
- In August 2000 the Assocation opened up again at the house of George and Jacqui Middleton (Tranquilidad) and was open on the first and third Wednesday of each month from 17:30 to 19:30.
- In September 2000 the association became the Group of Friends and produced their first newsletter THE GROUP OF FRIENDS NEWSLETTER.
- In November 2000 there was no newsletter and they were short of funds. The Chairman felt that if it ceased the group would crumble so in December started a new style newsletter, paid for by volunteers and fund raising events.
- December 2000 THE GROUP OF FRIENDS NEWSLETTER (new style).
- January 2001 new library opened at Tranquilidad.
- At the AGM in 2001 it was voted that from the November 2001 issue members would pay a subscription for the printing of the newsletter.
- November 2001 members’ meetings held at Bar Internacional on the first Thursday of the month at 19:00.
- Thursday 6th December 2001 the library moved to Chris and Mike Marsh’s garden at Casa Horizontes Nuevos and committee meetings held there.
- April 2002 monthly members’ meetings moved to Rincon de Pedra.
- Tuesday 30th April 2002 new site opened in the covered market.
Open Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays 10 – 2.
- 11th January 2002 Library’s 1st anniversary.
- February 2004 changed to Almanzora Group of Friends/Asociacion
de Amigos Orientadores del Almanzora with new style ALMANZORA
GROUP OF FRIENDS newsletter.
- February 2007 moved to Calle Barcelona.
- March 2011 moved to Avenida LePanto.
- October 2012 opening hours extended to include Friday morning
(Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sat).
- In 2018 the Mayor of Albox, offered us the lovely premises at Plaza
San Antonio – in the older part of Albox (Bario Alto) – not far from
the site of the ‘International Office’ 20 years before !!!
- The library and social centre is now open from 10.00 to 1.00 Tuesday to Friday and details of what we offer to our members is on this website.