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Direct Action

Outside the old Town Hall in Cartagena these four chaps were making their point. The problem was that I wasn't quite sure what their point was - so I asked.

From what they said and from a bit of Googling I think the story is this. Remember that Cartagena, even today, is a navy town. CIM, the initials on the placard, stand for Cuartel de Instrucción de Marinería or Naval Training Barracks. The core of the school consisted of a building put up in the mid 18th Century as a gaol. A gatehouse and external wall were added in 1911. In 1999 the barracks were closed.

At the start of this century the Town Hall and University came up with a plan to turn the, now empty, main building into the business studies faculty of the University and to open up the rest of the space, which fronts onto the harbour, for leisure use. To do that they had to knock down the 1911 walls but, bowing to local pressure, they left the gatehouse in place.

Whilst we've been in Cartagena the site has been surrounded by diggers, cranes and men in yellow hats who have renovated the old building and added a new steel and glass annex. Only last week I noticed that the building is now in use even though there is still a lot of external work going on. With the job almost done the old gatehouse now sticks out like a sore thumb. Presumably someone has suggested that a wrecking ball would be the best solution. And I suppose that's why the four men, who almost certainly started their military service at the barracks, were on the Town Hall steps in the rain.


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