Rooms 2 y 3. Industrial and commercial Grau/Grado

Room 2. Industrial and Commercial Grau/Grado


Una villa emprendedora / An entrepreneurial ton

The activity of Grau/Grado has been kept alive for centuries thanks to the market, trade, and local industry. Oral memory and historical documentation provide evidence of the dozens of shops that over the years filled the streets with shop windows and products. In addition, on market days, a multitude of saleswomen crowded the streets and squares with their merchandise, filling the town with atmosphere, colour, and life. 

The initiative of its neighbours ensured that any place, no matter how small, became a good place to start a business, being always adapted to the needs of the costumers and the new times. Proof of this vitality is that many of the market’s establishments and stalls are still open to the public after a century of activity and several generations of work. 

Many of the objects and photographs that can be seen in this space have been generously donated by residents to the Ethnographic and History Museum of Grau/Grado, so that everyone can get to know and enjoy this heritage. 

La Barbería-peluquería

The barber's-hairdresser's is one of the most common establishments to be found in villas. Men used to have their hair cut and their beards shaved with a razor. As nowadays, they were meeting places for neighbours where lively gatherings took place, where they listened to the news and music of the moment on the radio, read news magazines and even played draughts.

Grau/Grado had up to ten barbershops in the 1950s. As a curiosity, in 1954, getting a haircut in the village cost three Spanish pesetas and a shave cost two pesetas. Twenty years later, in 1975, getting a haircut cost fifty pesetas and a shave cost twenty-five pesetas. The furniture we can see here is part of the old El Aseo barber's shop, founded at the beginning of the 20th century. Along with the items from El Aseo, there is also a display of utensils from another “moscona” barber's shop, the one owned by Porfirio Guzmán.


Room 3. Industrial and commercial Grau/Grado


Industrias y manufacturas / Industry and fabrication


From the end of the 18th century, Grau/Grado had a notable industrial boom. In 1794, the Grau/Grado arms factory was established in San Pelayo, a secondary factory to the one in Oviedo/Uviéu. Here, until its transfer to Trubia in 1848, rifle barrels were manufactured and drilled. With the growth of the industrialisation process, from the mid-19th century onwards, small factories prospered: leather tanning, chocolate, salted butter, salted meats and hams, cider, slippers, cheese, etc.

In the 20th century, the industrial vocation continued with new companies: woodworking industries (sawmills, cabinetmaking and furniture workshops, a factory for making "madreñas"), foodstuffs (soft drinks and soft drinks, coffee roasting), construction (weaving, marble works), the printing industry and printing presses, and a tanning extract factory. Among others, a confectionery tradition developed in Grau/Grado, which took advantage of the quality raw materials produced in the council (flour, butter, milk, and eggs). Even some businesses of a certain volume, such as Almacenes Miranda (the main Asturian exporter of hazelnuts at international level and wholesaler for small businesses throughout the western area), developed industries geared to trade and distribution, such as the bottling of olive oil and soya, from their own production centres in Andújar (Jaén).

Women workers in front of the now defunct La Moscona slipper factory. Circa 1930
Staff at the La Moscona slipper factory. 18 July 1942. Private archive of Marta and Manolita “del Cristín”
Driver and truck at the Extractos Curtientes del Norte de España factory located in La Cardosa. 1946. Valentín Vega. Col. Muséu del Pueblu d'Asturies
Restituto Coalla tannery located in what is now Plaza del Cortijo. Advertisement published in the Álbum anunciador (Gijón/Xixón, 1893). Col. Muséu del Pueblu d'Asturies
Farmacia Miranda, founded by Manuel González Miranda, in its first location in La Pedrera Street, today Manuel Pedregal Street. Private archive of Pilar Llorca López
Manuel González Miranda (in the middle) in his pharmacy. Next to him, the young Eugenio Marbán Rodríguez, on the left, and César Fernández Álvarez, “Caco” on the right. Private archive of Pilar Llorca López
Casimiro Álvarez’s pharmacy located in Calle de La Pedrera, today Manuel Pedregal Street. Advertisement published in the Álbum anunciador (Gijón/Xixón, 1893). Col. Muséu del Pueblu d'Asturies
Rafael Sampedro’s pharmacy and chemical laboratory located in Barredo Street, today Marquesa Vega de Anzo Street. Advertisement published in the Álbum anunciador. Col. Muséu del Pueblu d'Asturies
Interior of the biscuit factory La Gilda located by Felisa Fernández. Circa 1960. Private archive of the Santiago Bengoa family.
La Chucha, La Gilda’s first motorbike delivery cart for sweets. Circa 1960. Private archive of the Santiago Bengoa family.
Confectionery Basilio García located in Calle Grande, today General Suárez Valdés Street. Advertisement published in the Álbum anunciador (Gijón/Xixón, 1893). Col. Muséu del Pueblu d'Asturies.



El mercáu ya las ferias / Market and fairs


The importance of Grau/Grado as the head of the county is linked to its commercial activity, with its weekly markets and fairs. The mercáu (market) is one of the most significant elements of the town, and acts as the backbone of the local economy. In fact, it came to be known as the "larder of Oviedo", as it was the only Asturian town with two weekly markets, on Sundays and Wednesdays, as well as a daily market. In addition, six annual fairs were traditionally held: the first and second Flor, Santiago and Santa Ana, La Caída, Los Prados and San Simón.

In the past, women from all over the region would come to the town on market day on foot or with their donkeys, filling the streets and squares with small stalls and offering the products of their farms. They were skilled at bargaining, even if they had to haggle, although many of them already had a fixed clientele or sold directly to traders who resold at this and other markets.

The mercáu also had areas dedicated to specific products. There was a goixas (basketry) market; a place for mangueiros and ablanas (hazelnuts); another for vegetables; pitas (chickens) in La Ferrería; butter, eggs, and cheese in front of the historic Maijeco festival hall; fabas (beans) in front of the city council; chestnuts in front of the church, and tiendas del aire (awning-covered stalls selling knick-knacks, fabrics, etc.) in the square.

The pixuetas (the locals from Cudillero/Cuideiru) brought the goods from the sea by means of the El Vasco railway. In August, the time of the bread harvest, women from the higher villages of the council, with their mesorias (two sticks used to pick the wheat), sold their labour here as famous spelt pickers. Hence the traditional expression “baxar vendese a Grau” (to come to Grao from their villages to sell their stuff). Men also sold their labour as reapers in the grass month and the goxeiros (basket makers) from the parishes of Cuaya and Rañeces and the mangueiros (makers of handles and wooden tools) from the villages in El Pedroriu came down to sell their crafts.

The livestock markets were held on Wednesdays (cattle) and Sundays (pigs, sheep, and donkeys). These, together with the annual fairs, made Grau/Grado a reference point for Asturian livestock farming.

The market continues to attract people from all over the region and even from outside Asturias, as it is an unmissable event for locals and foreigners alike. It is a space for exchange, meeting and socialising that constitutes, in short, a living cultural heritage.


Market day in Concepción Heres Street. Circa 1913. Col. Martín Carrasco Marqués
Awning-covered stalls in General Ponte Square. 25 of April of 1920. Celso Gómez Argüelles. Col. Muséu del Pueblu d'Asturies.
The cattle market. Circa 1930. Col. Muséu del Pueblu d'Asturies
FF050743_2450.jpg Woman posing for a photo in the General Ponte Square on a market day. March of 1967. Francisco Ruiz Tilve. Col. Muséu del Pueblu d'Asturies.
​​​​​​​Women selling products form the market-garden in Álvaro González Square. 1979. Foto Chema. Private archive of María Evangelina Martínez Martínez.
The church square on a market day.  End of the 1990s. Xosé Ambás. Col. ATOAM (Archivu de la Tradición Orald´Ambás)



Los comercios / Shops

In the atmosphere of the weekly markets, numerous shops sprang up, supplying all kinds of products to the town and the surrounding area. On market days, people who came from the villages took the opportunity to go to their local shops and buy necessities that were not produced in their villages: tools, kitchen utensils, pastries, or colonial products (coffee, sugar, oil, soap, salt, paprika, etc.).

Most of them were family businesses in which the owners often lived in the same building as the commercial premises, with the shop, workshop or workshop on the ground floor and the living quarters on the upper floors. The identity link between the establishment and its workers was so close that the latter were given the name of the shop as a nickname.

This space recreates one of these shops of yesteryear. Although each one had its own peculiarities, most of them had a series of common elements: the large shelves for storing and displaying products, and the counters where customers were served and on which the shopkeeper's basic tools, the scales and the cash register were placed. The furniture and some of the pieces come from the Guisasola hardware store and La Casa Grande, two emblematic shops in Grau/Grado that closed their doors in recent years. The rest of the objects come from other businesses and industries in the council.

Rosa Mari Santos Usategui and her mother Marina Usategui Gardeazabal working in the family grocery shop located in the city hall square. Circa 1960. Foto Pin. Private archive of Julio de la Fuente Santos.
Laurentino Álvarez Fernández in front of the Tarralca watchmaker’s shop, founded by him and his brother Manuel in the 1950s. February of 1965. Laurentino Álvarez Fernández’s private archive.
La Magdalena printer’s founded by Adelina Fernández Barbón in 1944. Private archive of Mercedes Valdés Cano.
Blanco Photography Studio, founded by Manuel Blanco González in the 1940s. Private archive of the Blanco family.
La Defensa, “fabrics, groceries, parcels and knick-knacks shop” located in Calle del Pez. Advertisement published in Álbum anunciador (Gijón/Xixón, 1893). Col. Muséu del Pueblu d'Asturies
Café del campo, owned by Vicente Díaz Vidal, located in Calle de la Pedrera, today Manuel Pedregal Street. Advertisement published in Álbum anunciador (Gijón/Xixón, 1893). Col. Muséu del Pueblu d'Asturies.
Gran Café Americano, owned by José Menéndez y Fernández and located in Calle Grande, today General Suárez Valdés Street. Advertisement published in Álbum anunciador (Gijón/Xixón, 1893). Col. Muséu del Pueblu d'Asturies
Joaquín Guisasola hardware store located in Calle Grande, today General Suárez Valdés Street. Advertisement published in Álbum anunciador (Gijón/Xixón, 1893). Col. Muséu del Pueblu d'Asturies.