With debate raging about the model of tourism for the Catalan capital, the Cossetània publishers have just released La Barcelona britànica i irlandesa (British and Irish Barcelona). The book offers an alternative view of the city, tracing the marks left by the Anglo-Saxon and Celtic cultures since the Middle Ages.
Written by Joan M. Serra, with a foreward by Matthew Tree, La Barcelona britànica i irlandesa uncovers the “close relationship between the city and the British Isles throughout history,” says the author. For instance, the book reviews the strong relationship between Ramon Berenguer IV and the King Henry II of England. Another character featuring in the book is Mitford Crowe, an Englishman who was a mediator between the Catalan dukes and the Queen of England during the War of Spanish Succession in the 18th century, a conflict that ended in the Genova agreement and a firm alliance between Catalonia and the British, according to Serra.
Another tie is the exile of physician Josep Trueta, who fled the Civil War to be received “with all honours” in England;. Then there are the brothers Arthur and Ernest Witty, key figures in the development of football and tennis in Catalonia. Arthur was the number two member of Barcelona FC and president of the club between 1903-1905. His brother Ernest was one of the founders of the Barcelona Lawn Tennis Club, one of the first clubs of its kind in the country.
The book also provides an overview of the city’s Anglo-Saxon architectural heritage, such as the Fabra i Coats factory, built in the early 20th century after the Manchester style, “much higher then the Catalan style,” says Serra. Another example is the Collserola tower (celebrating 25 years this year), designed by the famous British architect Norman Foster.
The period with the most contact between the two countries goes from the 18th century to present: “In the 18th century, the spirits and textile trades developed, and in the 19th century Catalan industry followed the model of the industrialisation process in the UK; in the 20th century commercial relationships became more important and nowadays, many British companies have offices in Barcelona and the most numerous tourists in Barcelona are British.
La Barcelona britànica i irlandesa is part of the Barcelona Cosmopolis project, a collection of guide books which link the Catalan capital to the French, Jewish, Italian and British cultures. Next up is La Barcelona africana.