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British in Iberia

British history and stories in Spain and Portugal.

Charles Pickman, Christopher Columbus and Seville.
28 April 2010 @ 11:12

The remains of Columbus and other members of his family are buried at the ancient monastery of La Cartuja.  Family members of Don Carlos Serra Pickman (1881-1951), grandson of the founder of theCartuja factory, still have the documents from research carried out which describe in detail the backgrounds of the various “Columbus´s” buried in the monastery.   This document was published in 1992.

In the book, the Marquis of Serra claims, and corroborates with evidence, that Columbus´s remains were never removed from their provisional tomb in La Cartuja in Seville.  To prove this, in May 1952, a group of academics, historians, forensic experts, journalists and representatives from the church began to dig up the ground of the Columbus’ chapel and exactly in the spot indicated by the Marquis, they found the bones of a man which he assured them were the genuine remains of Christopher Colombus.

Charles Pittman Jones Alnutt, born in London in 1808, arrived in Cadiz in 1822 from Liverpool to continue with the business started by his step-brother, William Pickman Hicks.  Charles Pickman continued with the same business activities as those of his step-brother, the commercialization of English-made products that were successful in the Spanish market of the time.  Taking advantage of the ecclesiastical confiscation’s of Mendizabal, the trader Carlos Pickman who was now set up in Seville, in 1838, rented the monastery that was previously abandoned and in ruins and then in 1840 he bought the premises, transforming it in 1841to become a ceramic factory and hence linking the names of Pickman and La Cartuja de Sevilla right up to the present day.
During this time, in the 19th Century, the location of the Cartuja monastery was excellent due to its isolated position facing Seville, on the right bank of the Guadalquivir river, in the Triana lowlands.  It stood out from the surrounding area with its grand elevations and raised kilns, tall chimneys, chapel, clock tower and elegant windowed balconies, creating a beautiful sight which was eye-catching even at great distance and the Cordoba and Huelva train lines passed by the buildings only eight hundred metres away.   From the building you could see Seville with her cathedral and slender Giralda tower, the Torre del Oro, iron bridges and the great Portilla White foundries, the gas works and the neighborhood of Triana.  Along the train line to Huelva, the Pickmans had set up a Decanville railway line which terminated inside the factory, passing through all the workshops and it was by this means that thousands of tons of coal reached the factory from Belmez, Espiel and Villanueva.

Production during the first years was simply the reproduction of English designs, and later they started with Spanish-style works.  For many years they supplied Spain and America with ceramics, replacing the ordinary ceramics of Talavera and Valencia which were usually seen on tables during the first years of the 19th Century.  The quality of the products made in La Cartuja was recognized both in the national and international press, in addition to the well-deserved awards earned in all the shows and exhibitions in which they participated. Their successes in London in 1862, in Paris in 1867 and  in 1878 in Vienna were much talked-about, where, amongst all the most outstanding products of the civilized world, Pickman was awarded first-class medals, having also earned the privilege of having the La Cartuja products  displayed in the most prestigious museums of Europe.  During the Centennial Exposition of Philadelphia in 1876, the Pickmans were rewarded with considerable accolades and awards, as well as the gold medal in the Barcelona World Exposition of 1888.

This explains the tendency of the public to purchase the ceramics of La Cartuja that not only were on sale in Spain but which also were exported to the Americas and other remote countries where, like here, it is sought after for its durability, delicate shapes, cleanliness, evenness, image detail, brilliance of colour and exquisite finishing touches.
The manufacturing programme followed in the factory was the same as that of the factory in England, having replaced almost all the original English workers with Andalucians.

In the luxurious salon of the factory were displayed elegantly-decorated items of artistic crockery, glassware and vases, reflecting the style of the Arabic embossed tiles such as those of the Alhambra and other styles, decorated in brilliant colours on chinaware and metallic reproductions of those found on the tiling of magnificent Seville buildings, the Gran Casino in San Sebastian, the Palacio de Ciencias in Zaragoza amongst others.

When Charles Pickman arrived in Seville he was a modest un-trained worker with little money who, with constant effort, hard work and ingenuity, managed to create and bring to life one of the most famous manufacturers in Spain.  He adopted Seville as his hometown and attempted to employ everyone who asked for work in his factory, in particular the potters from the neighborhood of Triana.  He was awarded the Order of Isabel the Catholic, the Knighthood of the Order of Carlos III, Order of Christ (Portugal), San Mauricio and San Lorenzo of Italy and was Royal Commissioner for Agriculture.  The title was then inherited by his eldest son who married one of the factory workers.

Amongst Pickman’s family successors were José María Piñar who was Mayor of Seville between 1947 and 1952 and for four years was rector of the technical college; Guillermo Serra Pickman who was a senior member of the Sagrada Mortaja (Holy Week Brotherhood of Seville) for forty years; Antonio Serra Pickman who was a senior member of the Santa Caridad (Seville Holy Week); Ricardo Serra who is the current president of the agrarian organization, Asaja-Andalucia; Guillermo Pickman Albandea who was captain of the Spanish rugby team and senior member of the Montserrat Brotherhood, just as his father was, Guillermo Pickman y Pickman.  The city shows its gratitude to this family by naming a street Primer Marqués de Pickman.

 Written by Jesús Castro

Translated by Rachael Harrison

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Victoria Clark said:
21 May 2010 @ 20:18

Many thanks for this very informative post about the Pickmans. I am a British author, trying to make contact with the present Marquis Pickman with a view to telling the family story.As far as I can discover he is el Marques Carlos de Vasconcellos y Pickman. Would you have any idea as to how I could get in touch with him?

Marcos said:
12 March 2011 @ 15:33

When Cristobal Colon died was buried in la cartuja, but his brother send the rests to Santo Domingo, in 1795 some rests were taken to Cuba, when in 1898 after the US War Cuba was made free from Spain, Spanish brought some rest to Spain, some remained there, at Cuba.

They brought the Colon-columbus rest again to Sevilla, yes, but to the Cathedral.

Dna tests where made so now its sure those in Seville and Santo Domingo are true.

Son of the C.Colon is also buried at the cathedral.

Brother and son of C.C. is at the Cartuja, that now is a regional gob offices.

Marcos said:
12 March 2011 @ 15:35

and by the way the original pickan that arrived here to Sevilla was from a wealthy family of traders from London, like the families that arrieved to Jerez, osbourne, terry, garvey etc. none of them was poor or untrained at all.

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