Nova Oeiras

Lat: -9.446921998609900, Long: 14.407218989707000

Nova Oeiras

Kwanza, Angola

Historical Background and Urbanism

The enlightened policy of governor Sousa Coutinho (2nd half of the 18th century) led to his creating structures in the colony that could foster the economy by making use of its iron resources.That is the context of the Real Fábrica do Ferro (Royal Iron Factory) of Nova Oeiras, built on the valley of the Luinha River, a tributary of the Lucala, in which there were deposits of iron ore. As an undertaking of the government, its final product was aimed at being consumed in Angola and in Brazil. In 1765 the processes of smelting and forging used by local blacksmiths were adopted; begun in 1766, the construction of the factory was interrupted several times due to the high mortality rate of the European chief smelters, tin plate workers and carpenters brought from Portugal and Biscay (Spain) to carry out the project. Besides the stone constructions, the hydraulic wheels and two bellows for the foundry were built, making use of the driving force of the River Luinha. The African labour force (smelters and craftsmen, including some slaves) and around 400 slaves devoted to the gathering and washing of the ore, gathering of wood, etc. had been granted by the subjected African chiefs. The dam was concluded in 1769 and reached up to 12 metres high. In 1772, with the departure of Sousa Coutinho, the unfinished works were postponed time and again and the factory was finally abandoned around 1800. In an effort at transferring smelting technology, “the Nova Oeiras project was a first attempt to use in (sub-Saharan) Africa hydraulic power aimed at mass production” (Venâncio, 1996).

Equipment and Infrastructures