A Urgeiriça revivida

Urgeirica

A pequena localidade mineira da Urgeiriça e os meus primeiros anos de vida aí passados foram revividos a semana passada. A mina está encerrada desde 1992 mas tem um historial de 80 anos durante os quais milhares de trabalhadores extraíram 1,6 milhões de toneladas de mineral utilizável ( especialmente Uranio) e deixaram ainda mais 2,5 milhões de toneladas de resíduos radioactivos.

Os meus poucos anos na Urgeiriça datam da década de cinquenta quando o meu pai João Manuel Pinheiro depois de completar estudos de engenharia em Inglaterra obteve trabalho na empresa que explorava a mina. Isto significou que a minha mãe Pamela Ineichen e eu passamos ps primeiros tempos de vida em Portugal nesta pequena aldeia do norte no distrito de Viseu. Tambem foi nesta altura que nasceu o meu irmão Pedro (1954).

As fotos deste periodo que tenho no meu album apresentavam-me a brincar à volta da casa ou fazendo piqueniques ou mesmo em periodos na praia. Tinha um triciclo, lembro-me da existencia de pintos de algum galinheiro e não muito mais de memórias me posso gabar desses dias em que dava pelo nome de Titi. A praia, vim a saber, por meu pai era a Ericeira para onde algumas mães íam com os filhos num apartamento alugado com os maridos a juntarem-se aos fins de semana.

A responsabilidade deste memorial todo foi o filme produzido por Ramsay Cameron (Urgeiriça cem anos) relatando a história da mina. Filme este que demontra ao espectador a importancia estratégica e económica da mesma. Muitos aspetos interessantes estão relacionados com a politica a nível mundial durante e depois da segunda guerra mundial, o envolvimento do ditador Salazar nesta verdadeira “ mina de ouro”. Tambem a primeira coneção entre a descoberta do mineral Rádio e de Marie Curie. Tambem a importancia do conhecido hotel Urgeiriça.

As enormes quantidades de Uranio encontradas e necessárias para os programas de armas nucleares pôs um foco único nesta pequena localidade que talvez ficasse de outra forma mais esquecida. O filme tem versões em portugues e ingles e encontra-se com facilidade na internet em https://vimeo.com/158161181. Vejam-no!

O pai de Ramsay Cameron , James, era engenheiro chefe nas minas quando lá viviamos. Fiquei a saber que é a irmã dele Cairine quem aparece na foto que aqui publico. Tambem fiquei a saber que a outra menina é a Dorothy Bennett com quem apareço noutras fotos. Os Bennetts eram outra familia que os meus pais conheciam e com quem se davam.

A importancia de escrever um blogue ficou mais uma vez provada.

Urgeiriça coming to life

Urgeirica

The small mining village of Urgeiriça, and my first years spent there all came to life a couple of weeks ago. The mine has been closed since 1992 but has a history of 80 years during which thousands of workers got out some 1.6 million tons of usable mineral (mainly Uranium) and left behind another 2.5 million tons radioactive residuals.

My few years in Urgeiriça go back to the early fifties when my father João Manuel Pinheiro after completing his engineering studies in England got employment in the mine. It meant my mother Pamela Ineichen and I spent our first years in this northern village in the Viseu district. It was also during this time my brother Pedro came to us.

The pictures in my album from this period showed me playing around the house or out on outings and on the beach. I rode a tricycle, I recall the existence of small chicks and not an awful much more in those days when I was nothing else but Titi. The beach, I have now learnt, was Ericeira where the mothers and their children spent time on a rented apartment with their husbands coming down at weekends.

Responsible for this memory revival is film producer Ramsay Cameron. He has made a most interesting film about the history of the mine where the viewer discovers the economic and strategic importance of it. Many interesting aspects touching big world politics during and after the war, dictator Salazar’s involvement in this real “gold mine”. The Marie Curie, radium connection…The importance of the hotel Urgeiriça.

The mine’s large quantities of Uranium, needed for the nuclear weapon project, put a focus on this small and otherwise forgotten area. The film is available both in English as in Portuguese on https://vimeo.com/158161181. Watch it!

Ramsay’s father James Cameron was a chief engineer at the mines during the period that my family were there. I now know that it is Ramsay’s sister Cairine we can see on the photo shown above. I also learnt from Ramsay that the other girl is Dorothy Bennett. The Bennets were another family that my parents knew and spent time with.

The importance of writing a blog has been proven again.

Travels with Grandpa 2010 (11)

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We travelled with Helena to Great grandpa at Guerra Junqueiro avenue -where we all could relieve ourselves. After that Greatgrandpa drove away towards the mountains in Sintra and on our way there we got acquainted with the coast and the impressive Atlantic waves. We all ate at a restaurant.

As this was happening we were curious to know what Grandpa and Patricia were up to in Viseu. They visited a very large mansion that had belonged to Patricia’s family and that had now been rebuilt for rural tourism for foreigners. The house had been bought by a Dutch couple and now it was owned by English people. Patricia got very sentimental as she had such strong memories from this place. In the evening and after long farewells with kisses and hugs Patricia and Grandpa left father-in-law Julio brother-in-law Cristóvão (Quitó) among a number of newly acquired family members!

Sunday! The whole group went to Belém. Grandpa showed the way on the tram from Terreiro do Paço. It was boiling hot and Vótetta had made
sandwiches, for our picnic. Grandpa and Patricia went into the Belém
tower. Nobody else had the strength. D & D were also there and that was fun. Eventually we all went back for a short visit to Jerónimos.
Back in S. Bento, we kids went to the Estrela Park and lived an adventure with some other children. We ate out and Daniel and Jonatan followed with Grandpa for a glimpse of the Pombal statue.

We now lived through the hottest day. Temperatures were up in the 40s. We took a taxi to the Amoreiras where Grandpa opened a bank account.  Jonatan and Grandpa had a haircut in Algés.
After that we could only stay indoors and wait for the sun to go down a bit. We visited the Poets Park in Paço d’ Arcos, and Grandpa explained about some of the writers and especially   Alexandre O’Neill that Grandpa had lived with as a child. We now know that Grandpa has spoken to two people who are now statues O’Neill and Eusébio. Afterwards we went back on Vótetta’s car and looked for a restaurant where they could hit dead crabs with a hammer. Liv and Helena had gone to the beach and Liv got a rash.

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Travels with Grandpa 2010 (10)

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There is always an unexpected Portugal waiting for you… Or as Grandpa says the unexpected is to be expected. Today Grandpa finished off some paper work and was on his way to Carcavelos when he got a phone call to turn around and stay in Lisbon. He could, after all, visit the Finanças there and deal with the papers and then go off to Cascais. It was already sometime after 5 o’clock when Grandpa and Patricia could arrive in S. Pedro where we were all waiting, since a few hours before. At last and after two weeks in Portugal, Grandpa finally came down to the beach to feel the sand and the ocean’s cold water!

Grandpa showed us children, something of the coast life and we discovered several sea snails, mussels and other creatures hiding under the rocks. Once back we were presented with a spaghetti dish with tomatoes and coriander after a dreadful trip for Grandpa who was dying to go to the toilet ever since we got on the train in S. Pedro.

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Life can be boring without Grandpa nearby! Patricia and grandpa went off early in the morning to catch the train to Viseu. Once there Patricia’s father Julio and his wife Cristina and daughter Joana were waiting at the station. They all took good care of Grandpa who was able to relax. They did not go to bed before 2 in the morning. What we did? Well… We went to the beach ate a Greek salad and on our way back we got lost in Lisbon looking for a restaurant to eat. Guided by Jonatan and Liv we eventually arrived at the place where we had eaten with Grandpa the evening when we had listened to the opera and Jonatan had a stomach ache.