8. Cal Nocaire
In 1685, the Banyoles shopkeeper and trader Llorenç Ferrer owned a gunpowder mill in this location. The gunpowder business arrived in today’s Girona districts well into the 17th century, although a few decades later, with the military conflicts with France, many of them were abandoned or destroyed.
In the mid-18th century, the sluice powered a cloth mill, or “noch”. The sley, also called fulling mill, was a mechanism made up of two wooden mallets that beat the cloths to give them thickness and consistency. It was probably at this time that the Cal Nocaire manor house was built, its name deriving from its owner’s profession. With the decline of the cloth business, the mill was converted into an oil press, driven by a caisson waterwheel. By the end of the 20th century, it was in a state of ruin and was demolished. Today the grinders of the oil press bear the only testament to its former activity.
A few metres above, going up the Rec Major, there were two more mills, one a paper mill and the other a bark mill.
The powdermaker’s profession
Making gunpowder was a delicate operation and not free of risks. The process consisted of separately crushing the ingredients (sulphur, saltpeter and charcoal), which were then mixed according to proportions that could vary according to each powdermaker. The resulting mixture was dampened to prevent explosions and give it density and consistency. The gunpowder was finally dried and packaged.
In times of war the flour and cloth mills were reconverted into gunpowder mills.
Did you know that...
in 1622, a barrel of gunpowder placed under the bed of the abbot Antoni de Cartellà exploded while he was sleeping, and he was buried by the rubble?