The building with the yellow facade that extends significantly along the Porta Nova street, opposite the old side wall of the São Paulo Church, was in the past an olive oil mill which held in its interior an important inventory of industrial machines that still exist there thus enabling us to document this trade.
Since ancient times olive oil has been produced in Tavira; this activity, which played an important role in the dynamisation of the local economy, continues up to this day, although at present times with more advanced technology and increased production capacity. It is therefore no wonder that all the districts’ oil mills, that had been set up in a considerable number from the mountain to the city, were equipped in the 1940′s with modern machinery and adapted to the new realities of the trade. There was even in the vicinity of the Porta Nova a curious concentration of such establishments, which not only proved this area of the city’s appetence for trade and industrial purposes but also that the production of olive oil was a business that was worth the risk. José Joaquim Ferreira owned an oil mill in the rua dos Fumeiros de Diante, while Maria Chaves Ortega was in charge of an oil mill located in the rua dos Fumeiros Detrás; the owners of these mills were notified in 1943 by the Inspectorate-General Agricultural Industries and Trade to pay the corresponding operating licences.
After the “remodeling” works carried out, having in view the modernization of the production systems, the Porta Nova oil mill was opened in October 1947, under the management of José Francisco da Encarnação. The editorial office of the local newspaper Povo Algarvio, which in a overjoyed tone praises the initiative, informs that the recently created oil mill was fitted with four hydraulic presses and had the capacity to produce an average of 1600 litres of olive oil per day.
Hardly any other oil mills in the surroundings were capable, in the 40′s, of competing with the novelty and innovative character of the industrial equipment set up in the Porta Nova, reason why the Povo Algarvio newspaper considered it to be the best example in the region.
Article of MARCO LOPES
Department of Urban Patrimony and Rehabilitation of the Tavira Municipality