In the Municipality of Albergaria-a-Velha, the existence of pottery has been archaeologically documented for at least 5,000 years, dating back to the first ceramic finds that occurred in the Mamoas do Taco site, in Albergaria-a-Velha, but also in the Monte de São Julião site, in Branca.
More recent are the tombs from the Roman period, second century A.D., found in São João de Loure, which have ceramics on their covers, in addition to fragments of amphoras, lamps and terra sigillata, as well as traces of a village from the same period, in Cristelo. – Branca.
In the early 1860s, 62 tile and brick ovens were registered throughout the Aveiro district, of which 22 were located in the municipality of Albergaria-a-Velha: 15 ovens in the parish of Alquerubim, 5 ovens in the parish of Albergaria-a-Velha and 2 ovens in the parish of Ribeira de Fráguas.
Ceramics would gain some notoriety here with the emergence of the Fábrica de Olaria da Biscaia (Biscaia Pottery Factory), located in the “Quinta da Biscaia”, in activity since at least 1890.
In 1905, the panorama of the ceramic industry in the Municipality of Albergaria-a-Velha was a little more diversified, developing in the parishes of Albergaria-a-Velha, Alquerubim, Angeja and Ribeira de Fráguas.
In addition to ceramics for domestic use, this small-scale industrial unit would later also produce decorative ceramics, namely wall tiles that are spread throughout the region.
In 1907 there were records of two potteries in the municipality: Fábrica de Olaria da Biscaia, in Albergaria-a-Velha (in activity since at least 1890) and the Fábrica de Olaria da Barca, in Angeja (in activity since the transition from the 19th century to the 20th century).
In 1918, the company Empresa Industrial do Vouga began to operate, essentially producing construction ceramics: tiles and bricks of various models.
This company was acquired in 1923, by the company Empresa Cerâmica do Fôjo, from Vila Nova de Gaia, for the price of 250,000 escudos, which would later be known as Fábrica de Cerâmica da Branca.
Between 1918 and 1920, three construction ceramics companies were born, two of which have typical workshop characteristics. In July 1920, a company was set up under the name Silva, Bastos & Companhia, with headquarters in Telhadela, Ribeira de Fráguas, the corporate purpose being the “manufacture of bricks and tiles and their wholesale and retail sale” and in May 1923, of the same nature, the company of José Nogueira Vidal, named “Progresso Albergariense”, is created in Albergaria-a-Velha with a different social object: the manufacture of mosaic.
Currently, in the Municipality of Albergaria-a-Velha, there are some companies linked to the field of ceramics, as well as some ceramic artists, highlighting the art of artisanal tile painting.
Mayor of Albergaria-a-Velha
The existence of some toponyms such as Rego da Telha, Forno da Telha, Barreiro, Barreiros, Barro, Casa do Barro, Lomba do Barro Negro, in some parishes of the Municipality, reminds us of the existence and importance of ceramic activity in those places.
All of this leads us to pay more attention to History, Culture and Heritage.
The Municipality of Albergaria-a-Velha, with a tradition in the field of ceramics and an interest in enhancing its Tile Heritage, with emphasis on the decorative elements of Art Nouveau, carried out a survey of properties (1654) with a vast heritage needing to be preserved, valued and promoted.
We are sure that the integration of the Municipality of Albergaria-a-Velha in the Portuguese Association of Ceramic Cities and Villages (APTCVC) will be the best way forward.
All actions that can contribute to the reinforcement of cultural identity and the preservation of collective memory, which in some way rescue this wealth and expand the defense, preservation and promotion of the Cultural Heritage associated with ceramic activity, are of enormous importance.
Mayor of Albergaria-a-Velha