La Fabra i Coats
La Fabra i Coats
Where once they twisted thread, today they create art. Where before there was a factory employing thousands of workers, now there is a centre for people to enjoy. Fabra i Coats, an old cotton spinning mill that gave a name and character to part of Sant Andreu, has now been reclaimed and proudly proclaims a neighbourhood's working-class spirit.
Threading the past
The sirens that signalled the times when workers entered and left Fabra i Coats were also those that regulated life in the old town of Sant Andreu. The Hilaturas de Fabra i Coats company became the main employer in Sant Andreu and at the beginning of the 20th century Ca l’Alzina, also known as Can Mamella, provided work for over 1,500 people. Fabra i Coats stood on an industrial site occupying two whole blocks that today, thanks to the efforts of local people, have been turned into a space reclaimed for public use: 30,000 square metres housing a large cultural and social centre.
The cotton spinning company was set up in 1839 but it was not until 1903, when it merged with the Scottish company J&P Coats, that it acquired the name it became known by everywhere, Fabra i Coats. And it adopted a surprising business model for the time, introducing improvements for the workers such as paid holidays, onsite nursery schools and healthcare.
The factory in the 21st century
Can Fabra gave Sant Andreu a workers' settlement still maintained today. Industrial reconversion led to the factory's closure but the City Council bought the land and factory premises for cultural use. Can Fabra, which had sustained generations and generations of Sant Andreu workers, was transformed to become a first-class cultural centre, the Centre Can Fabra. A former industrial building which today houses an artistic creation laboratory, the Fabra i Coats - Art Factory, the Contemporary Art Centre, the Can Fabra Cultural Centre, the Ignasi Iglésias library, the Sant Andreu Community Centre, the Josep Bota social and cultural area and Pl. Can Fabra. Where before workers spun cotton thread, today their grandchildren and great grandchildren enjoy themselves, grow up and create art.