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MAXAM Foundation

MAXAM Foundation - House of the Explosive - Gunpowder

The development of mining in Asturias during the 19th century led to the establishment of three gunpowder factories in the region: Sociedad Anónima Santa Bárbara (1880), Sociedad Anónima La Manjoya (1882) and La Manjoya Fuse Company (1890). The three would later, in 1896, integrate into Unión Española de Explosivos, the company that is MAXAM today.

The first of the three companies supplied up to 9,200 kg/month of gunpowder, which helped to build the Pajares railway tunnels that connected Asturias to the Castilian plateau on August 15th 1884.

The formula for so-called black powder in the 19th century was 75% saltpetre (potassium nitrate), 15% charcoal and 10% sulphur. In this part of the museum’s exhibition we can see what the retort furnace and the mortar mill looked like and which were used to prepare the charcoal. The three components then underwent a series of phases, among them the stone mill (with a plate of up to 2 m in diameter and stones weighing 4,000 kg) to turn them into gunpowder.

The different types of gunpowder produced according to their application, or the various professions such as the “blaster” role are other topics dealt with in this section of the House of the Explosive.


Last update 2021.06.21
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