The force of the river water has been a key element in Bocairent’s agricultural and industrial development. Throughout its history complex systems of irrigation have been employed, from those designed by the Arabs, up to the modern era and the use of industrial machinery. Whilst the mills started by using pre-industrial technology some of them were later adapted for new usages, giving rise to flour factories, paper-making industries, textile factories, etc. In order for these factories to function adaquately energy was provided using hydraulic power. Hydraulic powered mills are those equipped with a series of mechanisms driven by the mechanical energy of water.
This makes the horizontal or vertical waterwheels turn, which then activates the machinery inside the mill. It’s important to note that Bocairent has a quantious level of rainfall and that its geography permits the use of upper driven vertical waterwheels, which are more efficient than horizontal ones in that they combine the power of the river current with the weight of the water itself. In Bocairent during the XV and XVI centuries different types of mills and textile fulling machines existed in order to grind the grain and prepare the fabric. All of them were owned by only a few families who virtually monopolised their operation.
In the XIX century an important change occurrred which was to revolutionise the textile industry: the appearance of steam-driven machinery. This invention led to an increase in flour production and at the same time reduced the labour force. However, there was a drawback and that was the cost of the coal needed to fuel the new machinery. Regardless of this inconvenience some of the old watermill owners took the plunge and updated and adapted their antiquated machinery to the new times. This led to the appearance of new industries along the riverbanks of the Clarià River, which reached its height during the second half of the XIX century. With the arrival of electricity to Bocairent in 1898, the factories relocated to within the town abandoning their old installations along the riverbank.
SOME OF THE MOST REMARKABLE MILLS
This is the reason why it is possible to find important mills along the Clarià River, such as: the Potarró Mill and the Viejo Mill are examples of mills supplied by water accumulation pools, and which are still preserved today; the Cueva de En Gomar Mill is the oldest and appears in records dating back to the XIII-XIV centuries; the Senda de la Esvaradora Mill; the Toll del Setrill Mill; the Lluna Mill; the Piedra Mill; the Mill of Eduardo Juan or de la Rueda, a magnificent and grandiose mill although in the end it was a fabric and dyeing factory. You can still admire its spectacular vertical wheel, after which it is named, measuring 6,5 metres in diameter. It’s also important to mention the Beneytos factory and the hydraulic plant of the Juliá.