On the occasion of the celebration of Saint George on April 23, patron saint of England, we want to celebrate this festivity with the English people reminding of the great influence they have had on the island of Gran Canaria.
The presence of English in Gran Canaria dates back to the sixteenth century, when they settled down in the Islands attracted by the export trade of sugar cane and the appreciated wines of the Canary Islands, initiating the trade of sack or canary wine. This generated a remarkable mercantile interchange with England during XVII and XVIII centuries. With the crisis of the wine market many English left the islands, weakening their presence throughout the XVIII by the censorship of the Inquisition, which aimed to limit trade and avoid the influence of European civilization in the country.
In the nineteenth century the trade relations restarted with the export of cochineal of the Islands (as a raw material of various dyes), which had its main receiver in the London market. This was a relatively short period, lasting approximately half a century, the end of which almost coincided with the beginning of the British mercantile establishment in Las Palmas.
In 1852, the concession of the duty-free zone for the island ports, thanks to the efforts of the grancanarian minister León y Castillo, supposes the beginning of a chain process: with the construction of the ports, numerous British companies established their charcoal stations in Las Palmas. The English investment monopolized all port activities: supply of coal, dry docks, small shipyards, consignees. And soon those same companies would take control of other economic sectors such as banking, insurance, tourism and the export of agricultural products, promoting the transport of English travelers on those same ships in which they exported agricultural products to England. We are talking basically about bananas and tomatoes. Large English companies were responsible for decades of sending the Canary Island fruit to London and from there all over the United Kingdom.
Places in Gran Canaria where to appreciate the English influence
- Real Club de Golf of Las Palmas
It is the oldest golf club in Spain. It was founded on December 17, 1891, when a group of British golf fans settled in Gran Canaria, held a meeting at the place called “The Lomo del Polvo”, today “Altavista” and “Escaleritas” giving rise to “Las Palmas Golf Club “. In 1957 the field would be moved to the current location, which was known as Los Llanos de Bandama, in the municipality of Santa Brígida, becoming what is now in Bandama the “Royal Golf Club of Las Palmas”.
The course consists of 18 holes par 71, a practice tee, two putting green, 1 pitching, an elegant clubhouse with all the facilities from which half of its holes can be seen, a shop, gym, bar-restaurant open all over the year, club rental, an equestrian section with 50 blocks and 5 riding schools and a tennis court with two courts. It counts among other many trophies with the Palmer Cup, the oldest sporting trophy in the Spanish geography.
- British Club Las Palmas
On October 2, 1908, a group of 36 Englishmen met with the clear purpose of founding a social club in the offices of the Grand Canary Coaling Company where they agreed to make the necessary contributions to start the project, whose first headquarters would be the Rayo hotel. near the Santa Catalina park. It was intended to be a social club, and one of the main attractions of the city for all British residents, visitors and captains of the sheeps that arrived in Las Palmas.
It is located on Calle León y Castillo on a property known as the Brown house. In the center of the city and with its own parking, where members can have a quiet and cozy place to meet with friends, their meetings, or simply, to rest and read the newspaper quietly.
- Holy Trinity Church
The Holy Trinity Church is located on Rafael Ramírez Street, in Ciudad Jardín and its history begins in 1887 when, following the meeting held by Vice Consul Swanston with the British residents, at the request of the Bishop of Sierra Leone, it was decided to build a church and the acquisition of a new cemetery. Two years later a plot for the building was sought and in 1891 the purchase deed was signed.
- Roya Tennis Club of Gran Canaria
Its history begins in the late nineteenth century between 1895-96, when some enthusiasts English living on the island decided to build Las Palmas Lawn Tennis Club to be able to practice a sport which was in fashion at that time in the upper echelons of the society, which had patented 22 years before the British citizen Walter Clopton Wingfied. Initially it was located in front of the Metropole Hotel, currently the city hall offices, and then it was transferred to the current facilities at the Bethoven Street, located in the proximity of the Santa Catalina Hotel.
The tennis club has 4 tennis courts, 1 paddle court, 1 gym and 1 cafeteria.
- Casa Leackock
English colonial house from the late XIX century. Its name comes from the English engineer David J. Leacock, popularly known as Mr. Leacock, considered the first banana exporter of the Canary Islands, especially in the municipalities of Guía, Galdar, Agaete and La Aldea.
It is located on Calle Fernando Guanarteme 225, next to the Las Palmeras Golf Course where the views are towards Las Canteras Beach. It offers, through its spectacular landscaped outdoor spaces surrounded by palm trees and lush vegetation, an incomparable setting for the celebration of any type of event both socially and business-like.
- English Cemetery of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
In 1834 a Royal Order granted the authorization to construct this enclosure that, by the intervention of the capital City council, would be realized in some lands located to the outskirts of the city, in the hillside of lands located in which nowadays it is the district of San José. In 2010, after decades of abandonment, the Government of the Canary Islands declares the cemetery as an Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC in Spanish), as a category of Monument. After that cataloguing a rehabilitation process was conducted that restored the beauty that it had in the olden times.