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Transport, tourism and technology in Portugal between the late 19th and early 20th centuries1

By Ana Cardoso de Matos / Maria Luísa F.N. dos Santos / Maria Ana Bernardo*

1 – Tourism and transport: interconnected journeys

In recent years, tourism has experienced increasing interest from researchers in various areas, a fact that has resulted not only in a diversity of approaches from which this theme can be treated, but also in the uncovering of the interconnections that exist between tourism and the development of the economy of transport and of society2.

Thus, tourist growth in each country has been the subject of several studies, ranging from economics to the political and cultural aspects associated with publicising the country as well as to the links between tourism and transport developments3. Research on the institutions promoting tourism and the magazines in which it is advertised has led to an understanding of the role that professionals such as engineers have played in promoting the activity and how they have long regarded it as a form of development for the economy4 and for transport5. The study of travel guides is another possible approach to understanding the links between tourism and transport. Utilitarian in their nature, travel guides are a reflection of the economic, social, cultural and technological changes that, over time, have been introduced into travel for cultural purposes or for summer vacations, and which gradually have come to be participated in by increasingly larger social groups6. The analysis of various tourist guides allows for an approach to various themes, particularly the different forms of transport and the new industries that technological and industrial development have made available for travellers/tourists.

Analysing the 20th century tourism phenomenon thereby implies understanding all the economic, social, political and technological changes that were initiated in the second half of the 18th century and which eventually brought about today’s phenomenon of ‘mass tourism’. Access to tourist travel – for improving knowledge, for leisure or even for therapeutic reasons – at the beginning of the 18th century, a privilege of the aristocracy, was gradually extended to include the rich bourgeoisie. Throughout the 19th century, it embraced even wider social strata through the development of transport and communications. However, in the 20th century its high level of growth allowed tourism to become, for many regions and even for some countries, one of the main sources of income and an important support for the economy.7 Throughout the 20th century, new achievements were established in the world of work, such as the right to paid holidays, which contributed largely to increase the numbers of those who could spend their leisure time getting to know other places and other cultures.

Many of the changes that occurred in tourism were determined by the technological and industrial innovations that generated an increase in and a broadening of new means of transport. As Catherine Bertho Lavenir observes, "les voyages changent comme changent les techniques" (Lavenir 1999: 9). According to this author, today’s characteristics of tourism are the result of an evolution marked by three distinct moments, separated by technological changes. The first period was the age of coaches and railways. Shortly before the turn of the century, the bicycle and the automobile changed the travelling conditions, allowing travellers a greater mobility and freeing them from the pre-defined routes offered by the railways. In the middle of the 20th century, the expansion of road transport as well as the development of maritime transport and the increase in air transport allowed tourism travel to be undertaken by an even broader spectrum of the population (Lavenir 1999: 9–11).

This text seeks to examine the links that, from the late 19th century into the early decades of the 20th, were established in Portugal between tourism and transport, connecting them with the strategies followed by railway companies, cycling associations, the Automobile Club of Portugal (1903) and Sociedade de Propaganda de Portugal (1906) in the promotion of tourism travel within Portugal and abroad.

2 – New forms of travel: technology, mobility and tourism

2.1 – The train: new possibilities for moving within a territory

The opening of the first section of the railway line linking Lisbon to Carregado dates from 1856, but it was only in 1863 that the whole of this line connecting Lisbon to the frontier was completed. Meanwhile, some sections of the northern line were constructed. In 1868, the direct service between Lisbon and Madrid for first class passengers was inaugurated as well as the railway service between Lisbon and Vigo.

Despite technical and financial difficulties8 in setting up a railway network in the following years, new branches were open throughout the country, even though sparse and serving only the principal urban centres. By the end of 1907, there were 2,388 kilometres of broad gauge and 365 kilometres of narrow gauge railway9.

This fact did not stop the railway network changing significantly the mobility of the population inside the country. On the one hand, this was because this new means of transport allowed greater distances to be covered in a shorter period of time, thereby altering the notion of space and time. On the other hand, it was because it imposed new rules for travelling – trains had established routes to follow whose times of departure and arrival could not be changed.

However, the population that did not live near the railway stations continued to face the problem of accessing them, a difficulty only wholly resolved by the introduction of the automobile.

Because the construction of railway lines required high levels of capital investment, one of the concerns of the companies that developed and exploited this means of transport was to obtain the economies of scale that would allow a return on the capital invested. To achieve this purpose the more intense utilisation and diversification of the system was necessary and, therefore, especially in the decade 1880–90, those companies implemented a series of commercial strategies to attract new consumers, namely those travelling for pleasure or for summer vacations.

With this objective in mind travel guides were published, special tariffs were put into effect, particularly during the ‘sea bathing’ season, and trips were organised at the time of special events such as exhibitions, congresses and fairs or to destinations whose beauty or monuments were likely to attract tourists.

In 1874, when the beach at Espinho was already being frequented by a significant number of people during the summer months, the government approved by the decree of 4th May 1874 a reduction of 20% in the price of day-return tickets between the stations of Espinho and those of Coimbra and Vila Nova de Gaia, a proposal that had been submitted to the government for approval by Cª Real dos Caminhos de Ferro Portugueses.

This type of initiative aimed at a more intensive use of first and second class carriages, which had a lower rate of utilisation. In Portugal, between 1877 and 1904, the figures for the use of the three classes of carriages, of which the trains were composed, support this fact: first class passengers comprised between 5% and 8%, second class passengers between 18% and 20% and third class passengers between 72% and 77%. Thus, the railway companies’ proposals were clearly targeted towards people who had substantial economic resources and could afford train excursions or leisure outings to beaches or to bathhouses during the summer.

As in European countries, the guides, which assumed a practical character and provided a range of information about means of transport, hotels to stay in and places to visit, appeared in the first decades of the 19th century, linked to the development of the railways10. In Portugal, some of the initiatives undertaken in publishing guides were also associated with the railways. That was the case of Guia Oficial dos Caminhos-de-ferro de Portugal, published in 1882, which, as indicated on its cover, was ‘the only fortnightly publication approved and subsidised by the railway board of directors and the companies’. To reach a wider range of the public this guide was sold at all railway stations.

With a view to taking advantage of the growing interest in beaches, in 1874 Companhia Real de Caminhos de Ferro submitted for government approval a reduced tariff for day-return tickets between the beach at Espinho and the cities of Coimbra and Vila de Gaia11. From the beginning of the 20th century, the number of tickets for beach-bound journeys showed an upward trend, even though it corresponded to only a small percentage of all tickets sold.

Tickets for the seaside sold by the Companhia Real dos Caminhos-de-ferro Portugueses between 1898 and 1900


Source: Reports of the Companhia Real dos Caminhos-de-ferro Portugueses, 1898–1900

Reduced tariffs were also applied to excursion groups or college and teacher groups12. Lower prices were applicable to periods when there were major exhibitions in Portugal or abroad with special trips being organised to see those events. For example, the Universal Exposition in Paris, which aroused great interest in Portuguese society, was the justification for organising railway excursions to that city. The excursion ‘Paris for £5’13 covered a return journey to Paris on set days, which allowed the traveller to remain in the city for 12 days to visit the exhibition, and for its organisation Companhia Real dos Caminhos-de-ferro Portugueses entered into an agreement with its Spanish and French counterparts14.

As an incentive to encourage travelling, from the 1880s onwards there emerged the idea of roundtrips in Portugal and abroad, particularly in Spain and France. The latter resulted in a combined service between Companhia Real dos Caminhos-de-ferro Portugueses and various Spanish and French companies15, which was widely advertised in various publications, such as Guia Portátil do Viajante em Portugal e itenerarios das viagens circulatórias em Hespanha e França, published in 188616.

In 1906, the railway companies submitted a new type of ticket – ‘kilometre tickets’ – through which the customer paid for the kilometres travelled, no matter the destination of their journey. The advertisement for this ticket mentioned the fact that it “gives the passenger absolute freedom, allowing its use in any direction, without any obligation to follow a determined itinerary”17. With the introduction of the kilometre tickets passengers were no longer restricted to previously defined itineraries, thereby being free to change them whenever they so wished.

2.2 – The automobile: from ‘pioneers’ to ‘vintages’18

The introduction of the first automobile in Portugal dates from 1895, a time when count Jorge de Avilez bought a Panhar et Levassor in Paris, which he used for several journeys in Portugal at a speed of 15 kph. The following year, Dr. Eduardo Tavares de Melo from Coimbra imported a Peugeot from France, described by the press at the time as an “elegant car with seats for three people, … fuelled by petrol (nafta), … on hills reaches a speed of 11 kilometres per hour and on the flat 26 easy to stop, even when rolling at top speed”19.

In 1900, there were 13 automobiles in Portugal, a number that rose in the following years.

Importation of automobiles into Portugal


Source: (Rodrigues 1988).

Since they were a new type of product, which was initially directed towards a clientele of pioneers with high incomes, automobiles were owned by an elite who saw this form of transport as a means of diversion, its use being closely connected with excursions and races. Only at a later stage did sales extend to broader groups, and innovations in this vehicle were aimed at satisfying the needs of these consumers (Caron 1997: 67). As in other countries, receptivity to motoring in Portugal was also associated with an ideal of a sporting and adventurous lifestyle.

On 27th October 1902, the first automobile race on the Iberian Peninsula between Figueira da Foz and Lisbon20 took place. In light of the success of this initiative, in which nine automobiles and five motorcycles participated, it was planned to extend as far as Lisbon the Paris–Madrid race that was due to be held in France in 1903.

This race was the determining factor in the establishment of the Real Automóvel Clube de Portugal, an organisation that played an important role in the development of car travel in Portugal.

In the following years, automobile excursions won an increasing number of supporters and the distances raced increased significantly. In 1912, the magazine Ilustração Portuguesa stated: “Motoring is developing. There are people who go on trips that last for months, undertake extensive travels through other countries, people like the sportsman Joaquim Lory, who recently returned from the Côte d'Azure”21. Guides were published with the aim of encouraging and facilitating car travel. The first guide aimed at motorists Guia das Estradas de Portugal – by Elysio Mendes, one of the first Portuguese motorists – was published in 1906. Not only did it give indications of the distances between various points in the country depending on the itineraries, but it also provided information about automobile repairs or interesting sights and monuments to be visited, being considered at the time a book which “all excursion makers would have an interest in consulting”22.

The growing interest in the automobile prompted the appearance in Portugal of various representatives of the principal carmakers, which were present at the I Salão Automóvel do Porto held in June 1914 at the Palácio de Cristal23. This exhibition, in which all the stands offered the services of engineers or representatives of the various makes turned out to be not only “an exhibition of foreign engineering but also an excellent showcase for national industries, especially regarding the construction of the bodywork which is as good as any and particularly outstanding in terms of comfort”24.

In 1901, after having studied the automobile industry abroad, Alfredo de Brito set up a business with the Cannells of Casa Parry & Son, Henrique Taveira, Jacintho d’Almeida and Carlos Alves. On 16th July of that year, the company launched five ‘mylord’ two-seater cars using a modified two-cylinder Mors motor, which reached three speeds (10, 20 and 30 km per hour)25.

The construction of bodywork in Portugal, an industry whose origins date from 1903, was considered at the time “a new industry with a bright future, as long as the end-product was perfect and at least likely to equal what came from abroad”26. One of its principal promoters was the French engineer Albert Beauvalet, the representative of Peugeot, hired in 1899 by Empresa Industrial Portuguesa to supervise the preparatory work aiming at the development of a model for a national car.

In some cases, the old houses that had built horse-drawn carriages adapted their production to the components for automobiles, as was the case of the Oficina de Carruagens under the direction of Eduardo Romualdo de Vasconcelos, located in Oporto, which began producing bodies, springs and wheels around 1908 or 1909.

In requiring the use of trunks, special goggles, gloves and other specific equipment and accessories, car journeys stimulated, although indirectly, the market for the consumption of products connected with those items. The success achieved by the house of Hermes throughout the 20th century was based on brothers Adolph and Émile-Maurice Hermes’s capacity to adapt to the requirements of new forms of travel, having engaged in the manufacture of products used by those travelling by car, by boat or by plane27. In Portugal, the company Panhard Palace, owned by Ricardo O’Neill & Co, sold cars of the makes it represented as well as ‘accessories, suits for car drivers, capes and veils for ladies’, that is, essential equipment for anyone travelling regularly on country roads.

The builders of automobile components were themselves involved in creating travel guides as a strategy for the promotion of their products. The publication of tourist guides by the Michelin brothers-owned company, which produced rubber articles, namely tyres, was thought of as an initiative for the promotion of their industrial pneumatic goods28.

In Portugal, automobile-related companies also published maps and guides. In 1905, the Colonial Oil Company issued an automobile map, and in 1906 A. V. Patterson, its director, put out Guia Automobilístico, containing alphabetically ordered information about all of the cities and towns that could be visited on car journeys as well as an indication of the various hotels and blacksmiths’ workshops that existed in each area, together with the company’s petrol selling venues29.

The diffusion of the automobile was encouraged by the press30. The growing interest of the Portuguese in motoring gave rise to various publications on the theme, as was the case with O Automobilista. Semanário destinado a pugnar pelo desenvolvimento do automobilismo em Portugal, whose publication began in 1910. The first issue acknowledges, “The great tourist journeys undertaken by our motorists, even when not completed, were nevertheless full of annoyances of every kind. The car axles and the chassis suffered damage because of the bad conditions of the roads. The delicate constitutions of the ladies could not bear the disagreeable bouncing around of the vehicles”31.

News about the technological development of automobiles became increasingly regular in the publications that focused on other means of transport. For instance, in Gazeta dos Caminhos de Ferro (Railway Gazette), news about motoring became a regular item from late 19th century onwards, and in 1908 the journal introduced a section about it, changing its name to become Gazeta dos Caminhos de Ferro. Electricidade e Automobilismo. However, under the charge of Ricardo O’Neill, an engineer who, as mentioned before, was the owner of a company connected to this sector – Panhard Palace – the section only lasted two years.

The use of the automobile forced speed limits to be introduced, signposts to be erected and rules to be established among the various users of this new means of communication (Lavenir 1999: 187).

The technological innovations of automobiles, which enabled a progressive increase in the speed that could be reached, made it necessary to impose speed limits32. In Portugal, the first regulation dates from 2nd October 1901 and established a speed limit of 10 km per hour, with heavy fines for anyone driving above it. This was not in step with the reality of the automobile, and the maximum speed was increased from 10 to 20 km per hour within built-up areas and to 30–40 km per hour on roads outside these limits.

The new form of transport also required changes in the way roads were planned and constructed since they conditioned the development of motoring tourism and for this reason their good condition became a constant concern for the societies promoting this activity.

2.3 – The automobile as complement to the train

At the end of the 19th century, railway technology was providing less and less of an answer to the new transport needs (Caron 1997: 103). Therefore, when the automobile began to be a more common feature in the country, this means of transport also came to be seen as a business to be developed and exploited, either ensuring links between places that were not yet served by the railway or between a particular place and a railway station.

At the beginning of the 20th century, there was increasing awareness in Portugal that road transport, particularly the automobile, was an important complement to the railway. To secure a road link between localities and railway stations, in 1903 the government authorised the application of a special fund for the construction of roads33. Despite still being a novelty, the automobile was seen as the ideal complement to the railway network. An article dating from 1901 acknowledges that:

“The railway cannot go everywhere; to stop near all the places which spread out over the countryside it would have to weave from one to the other, prolonging the journey. Constructing small, local lines, like vertebrae from the spine, to take passengers and goods to neighbouring villages is almost always difficult and often not financially justifiable, given the small amount of traffic. Therefore, the automobile is an invaluable element!”34.

This recognition of the potential importance of the automobile played a decisive role in the passing of a law on 3rd October 1901, which enforced the inspection of all automobiles and regulated speed and safety conditions in relation to the circulation of this vehicle.

Thus, from the beginning of the 20th century advertisements began to appear announcing automobile services linking various localities in the country. In 1903, it was reported that “a large motorised vehicle business has just been established in Lisbon, with the aim of providing a valuable service to several parts of the country, linking them by means of motorised vehicles for the transport of passengers and goods”35.

In 1904, two businessmen, George Frechou and Carlos de Sousa Reis, obtained a 19-year concession for the exclusive right to transport passengers, luggage and mail bags among Santarém, Almeirim, Alpiarça and Chamusca in petrol-driven vehicles that carried a maximum load of 1,400 kg. They agreed to have personnel in all the appropriate locations to receive and deliver the bags that were driven to and from the mail trains, as well as to guarantee that the motorised transport would meet the arrival and departure of all express and mail trains (two mixed trains in the morning and another two in the afternoon). Prices would be the same as those applied by the coach companies. A similar concession was sought at the same time by two other businessmen for the Beira Alta region. The applicants intended to link several regions with railway stations in the Douro, the North and Beira Alta. The route would serve the arrival and departure of all mail and express trains, and the service would be guaranteed by petrol-driven motor vehicles travelling at an average speed of 25 km an hour36.

At the end of 1905, a motor vehicle service between Sines and Setúbal was set up. These vehicles could accommodate 18 passengers and accompanying luggage, and they covered 110 kilometres at 18 km an hour. At that time, a similar service was introduced between Aveiro and Ílhavo using a 220-seat vehicle, and a regular service of motorised vehicles among Oliveira de Azeméis, Estarreja and Murtosa was expected to be operating in the near future37.

The significance acquired by the automobile as a complement to and an extension of the railway was clearly stated the following year when it was announced that “as soon as the railway line from Coimbra to Lousã is opened, a motor vehicle service will also be established between Lousã, Góis and Arganil”38.

In 1909, engineer Mello Mattos published an article on ‘Roads of the Future’ in Gazeta do Caminho de Ferro because “the railway has not killed the road and that is why motoring will reinvigorate the railroad, and the war which the new is declaring on the old is perfecting what was about to lose its life”39. The following year, when referring to a conference given by the Italian engineer Ruggeri on roads and motoring at the headquarters of the Society of Italian Engineers and Architects, Mattos stated that “motoring is the logical and indispensable complement to the railways”40.

As time passed, the motor vehicle became more common, which prompted this exclamation in 1912: “At last! The owners of horse-drawn coach lines are slowly realising that these detestable vehicles are out of touch with the 20th century and that they can only be replaced by the automobile”, to which the following was added, “Those of us who intend to live from tourism should finish off an inconvenient means of transport”41.

Despite this optimism, the truth was that in most parts of the country connections continued to be made by horse-drawn coaches, which was partly explained by the substantial capital required to set up an automobile business. For this reason, it was claimed that, as in the case of France and the UK42, the railways should take on the task of setting up the necessary motor routes. Such an initiative – greatly acclaimed – was taken by the Beira-Alta Railway Company, which in 1913 inaugurated “a bus service connecting the most important places in the region served by its line to the respective railway stations”43. This service used four Panhard-Levassor vehicles, each having a first class and a third class compartment to transport 17 passengers and accompanying luggage.

In Portugal, the interdependent nature of the train–car relationship also worked the other way round. At the beginning of the 20th century, the state of repair of the roads frequently made people resort to the railway as a means of travelling across certain areas. In 1911, one of the main concerns of Automóvel Clube de Portugal was the fall in the price of automobiles because of the railway since “the state of repair of the roads in our country unfortunately leaves much to be desired, which frequently makes the motorist turn to the convenience of using certain railway routes”44.

2.4 – The bicycle: the freedom of individual transport

Since the invention of the first cycling machine, constructed in 1693 by Ozanam, the bicycle met with successive technological improvements right up to the 19th century. By improving comfort for cyclists, the invention of the pneumatic tyre by Dunlop in 1889 contributed significantly to the use of the bicycle by the general public.

At the end of the 19th century, cycling had a considerable number of followers in Portugal. In 1897, there were 6,000 bicycles in the country, a number that, nonetheless, was smaller than in other countries. Represented by several Lisbon retailers, various makes were sold: Columbia and Herittford cycles were sold by Columbia; the Clement cycle by Santos Beirão e Henrique; and the Peugeot cycle by José d’Orey & Co., the only agent in the country for “the famous Peugeot bicycles, which had won most of the first prizes in Portugal”. The advertisement for the Clement bicycles claimed that they were “the nobility, the clergy and the people’s favourites. It cannot be otherwise, since their reputation is universal and no other bicycle matched them in elegance, perfection, lightness, smoothness of movement and prices”45.

Among the reasons given for the slow development of cycling in Portugal was the cost of bicycles in the country. But also mentioned were “the rough nature of our land and the appalling state of our roads, which weaken any aspirations or inclinations we may have towards the development of cycling, since they make it awkward and hard for the beginner or the less physically fit to go on the kind of long excursions which are the real and main delight of the bicycle”46.

3 – The promotion of tourism and new methods of transport by the ‘Touring Clubs’

The Touring Clubs, initially connected with cycling, had as their model the English Cyclist Touring Club, which had been organising group excursions since 1875 and whose membership amounted to 25,000 associates in 1879. This organisation’s influence spread to the countries of continental Europe. In 1890, the Touring Club of France was set up and its headquarters were situated in one of the avenues leading to the Bois du Boulogne, a favourite place among cyclists. In 1896, this society had 40,000 members and had diversified its activities. The appearance of the first automobile in the country in 1895 and its later spread brought about the publication of technical texts about this new means of transport as well as concern about the state of the roads, which now had new users47. Meanwhile, there was an attempt to extend tourism to all the regions of France as well as create the concept of "tourism regions" and identify certain cities as "centres of tourism" (Young 2002: 172). By contrast, their activity was extended to the modernisation of hotels and the protection of historic monuments, prompting the establishment of a professional association and the publication: Sites et Monuments. With this initiative the Touring Club of France "prend en charge des actions d'intérêt collectif qui ne font pas encore explicitement partie des fonctions de l'État"48.

3.1 – The Portuguese ‘Touring Clubs’

3.1.1 – The União Velocipédia Portuguesa

As a result of the interest that cycling aroused in Portugal, various connected associations were established at the end of the 19th century49; Club Velocipedista de Portugal (Portuguese Cycling Club) was set up in Lisbon in 1891, Velo Club in Oporto in 1893 (later named Real (Royal) Velo Club) and the Velo Club de Lisboa, a new association created in Lisbon in 1894. In the following years, new associations sprang up all over the country because “the number of cycling enthusiasts increased astonishingly”50.

With a view to bringing together the various existing associations – and following the pattern of its counterpart, the French Cycling Union – União Velocipédica de Portugal was established on 14th December 1899 with the following stated objective: to develop cycling and make it more widespread in all its forms and applications”51. Shortly afterwards this association became an affiliate of the International Cycling Union.

Although cycle racing was its main activity, União Velocipédica de Portugal also organised excursions and sought ways of promoting tourism by bicycle. Thus, in 1900 it demanded that the government “allow free entry to the bicycles of tourists who visit our country, as successfully happens in France, in Belgium, and even in Spain”52.

According to a report of the directorate of this union, at the beginning of the 20th century “cycling as a sport is going through a serious crisis because of the astonishing development of motoring, which is now the chosen sport of the rich and the privileged”53.

Nevertheless, cycling was gradually appearing as the subject of various articles in magazines and newspapers. In 1900, the magazine Occidente published a didactic article on the best way to use a bicycle, namely focusing on the dangers and potential accidents for the tourist on the road54. At the same time, the Portuguese Cycling Union continued to develop activities intended to promote the practice of cycling by setting up signposts on various roads in 1906, an initiative which was considered “an extremely relevant service for excursion makers”55.

3.1.2 – O Real Automóvel Clube de Portugal

The Royal Automobile Club of Portugal, founded, as mentioned above, in 190356, played an important role in developing automobile transport in Portugal. Shortly after it was set up, the Portuguese club made contact with the Automobile Club of France57, “the most important of all, not only because of the part France had always had in the automobile industry but also because of its unrivalled organisation, which gave it a hegemony among the great European clubs”58.

Recognition of Real Automóvel Clube de Portugal by its French counterpart allowed it to be represented by delegates at the international congresses that met in Paris for the Salons de L’Automobile, du Cycle et des Sports, at the tourism congresses and at other international meetings with an interest in motoring. Affiliated to the International Association of Recognised Automobile Clubs, the representatives of the Portuguese Automobile Club took part in its congresses and, in 1907, when the Commission for International Sport was created Portugal was represented by a delegate.

As well as organising various motoring competitions, this association also ran tourist excursions. In 1907, when an automobile exhibition took place in the Spanish capital, the association attempted to organise an excursion competition between Lisbon and Madrid, but the initiative did not succeed because the Royal Automobile Club of Spain failed to support it.

While promoting the use of the automobile, this club played an important part in drawing the government to alter the decrees that regulated the circulation of automobiles. Because of its influence, the legislation of 1901 was altered by the decrees of 27th March 1909 and 27th May 1911, the former reducing the number of fines and permitting an increase in speed from 10 to 20 km per hour in built-up areas and from 30 to 40 km per hour on the open roads as well as making car registration compulsory. These decrees also recognised Automóvel Clube de Portugal as an official entity, thereby giving it the necessary financial means to launch the demarcation of roads in accordance with the international convention. It also set up regional offices for the North, the South, the Azores and Madeira, where car and driver inspections conducted by representatives of Automóvel Clube de Portugal took place.

Despite the development of activities that this association was involved in and the help that it provided for its members, only a small number of motorists became members: out of the existing 3,936 motorists in 1907, only 422 were members of the Automóvel Clube de Portugal.

3.1.3 – Sociedade de Propaganda de Portugal 59

The founding of Sociedade de Propaganda de Portugal, also known as the Touring Club of Portugal, dates from 28th February 1906. Its objectives were “to promote on its own, by joint intervention with public authorities and local administrations, by collaboration with them and with all of the active forces within the nation and by the international relations it may establish, the intellectual, moral and material development of the country and principally to encourage both the Portuguese and foreigners to visit it and love it”60.

By December 1906, the number of members had risen to 2,175 (1,054 founding members and 1,121 new members), a trend that was consistent in the following years. Since the membership of the Portuguese Association compared with that offered by other European touring clubs, this meant it was significant in relation to the size of Portugal. Among the various commissions created within Sociedade de Propaganda de Portugal were those for the land and maritime systems of transport, which illustrates this society’s concern for the development of communication routes.

The interest of the railway companies in the organisation of a society likely to promote the development of tourism in Portugal was demonstrated by the participation that the directors of these companies had in Sociedade de Propaganda de Portugal. In 1906, engineer André Leproux, the director of Companhia Real dos Caminhos-de-ferro, was appointed vice president and António Carrasco Bossa, another engineer in the same company, was chosen as a voting member of the directorate.

The interconnection between the various forms of transport, particularly between the ships arriving at the port of Lisbon and the railways, was a matter of concern. Having this objective in view, from 1906 onwards it sought to establish a Sud-Express train that would leave Lisbon on Thursdays following the arrival of the ocean liners from America. Because of the society’s painstaking efforts, this train, named the Sud-America-Express 61, began to operate on 21st June that same year.

4 – Final remarks

The development of tourism was greatly facilitated by the development of land, sea and air transport as well as communication routes. Similar to what was happening in other European countries between the late 19th century and the early 20th century, Portugal also witnessed the launching of several initiatives to stimulate and facilitate the mobility of peoples and goods, thereby contributing to the promotion and development of tourist activities. The companies connected with the transport systems, such as the Companhia Real dos Caminhos de Ferro Portugueses (Royal Company of the Portuguese Railroads), developed strategies to increase the number of passengers in the several regions covered by their networks. This development was crucial for the progressive enlargement of tourism, whether by the adoption of a more favourable pricing policy during the season of ‘sea bathing' – which allowed an increase in the number of first and second class passengers – or by the expansion of the railroad network to cover the main cities of the country and to serve some areas visited mainly during the summer or thermal epoch (e.g. Figueira da Foz or Curia). Equally relevant was its role in the impetus given to the automobile transport to connect the railroad stations to the towns that they served, or the attempt of easing off itineraries for the several lines by creating kilometric tickets as an alternative to ordinary tickets. Other companies connected with the automobile transport and oil, such as the Colonial Oil Company – at a time when the automobile was still in Portugal a means of transportation only used by certain elites – sought to promote and facilitate its use by publishing roadmaps and guides that served two purposes: to inform and to advertise. The organisations with an associative nature stemming from the civil society – among which were the Portuguese Cycling Union, the Royal Automobile Club of Portugal and the Propaganda Society of Portugal – were fundamental in the development of tourism and its related activities. They sometimes even assumed an almost official character, both through developments in the governmental sphere and the acknowledgement they expressed. In addition to calling attention to the most important aspects of a developing activity, their initiatives, together with the information, ideas and opinions put forward by their members, often worked as an alert for the resolution of problematic situations, for example the condition of the roads, which was a serious hindrance both to cycling excursions and the development of tourism based on road mobility. Complementarity between the various means of transport was soon considered crucial to the smooth circulation, not only within the country but also in the establishment of connections between countries and continents through land and sea routes. With this target in mind, the Tourism Office, established in May 1911 as the first Portuguese institution dedicated to tourist activity, stated that “it is also due to the shortening of the journey that the French think of using our country as a go-through zone to Morocco”, thereby claiming that “Portugal is the natural bridge that will serve other countries in their international relationships”62.


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1 The first version of this paper was presented at the Fourth Annual Conference of the International Association for the History of Transport, Traffic & Mobility (T2M), Paris 28 September to 1 October 2006.

* CIDEHUS/Universidade de Évora

2 In 2001, the International Commission for the History of Travel and Tourism was created The communications presented at the XIII Economic History Congress, Buenos Aires 2002, analyse tourism under various headings: the infrastructures related to tourism; the actions of government and public authorities in promoting tourism; the role of the tourism industry in the economy; and the representations of tourism in relation to public opinion. These communications were published in TISSOT (2003).

3 Vergeade-Williot, Marie-Suzanne - Le tourisme ferroviaire ou le temps imposé
For the links between transport and tourism see also Mom (2003: 131–132).

4 See, for instance, Pellejero Martinez (2005: 87–114).

5 These links have become clear from research undertaken by CIDEHUS.

6 For various approaches to travel guides, see Chabaud et al. (2000).

7 For the history of tourism, see Boyer (1999, 2000).

8 This required recourse to foreign technical assistance and foreign capital. On this subject, see Pinheiro (1986).

9 J. Fernando de Sousa. Caminhos de ferro. In Notas sobre Portugal, vol. I. Lisboa: Imprensa Nacional, 1908, 764.

10 Catherine Bertho Lavenir considers that, in the history of guides, which represent a genre close to the travel narratives to which they are orientated, it is possible to establish three generations of work. The first, whose prototype is the Guide du voyager en Suisse, published by the Englishman Johan Ebel in 1793, is still very close to being a travel narrative. In the second generation, linked to the development of the railways and coinciding with the industrialisation of tourism, the guides assume a more practical aspect and include information on the monuments and the material aspects of the journey, although they are often preceded by a general introduction about the country or the region they are covering. At the turn of the century, there emerged another type of guide – monographs dedicated to a determined region (Lavenir, 1999: 58–62).

11 This measure was approved by the decree of 4th May 1874, which reduced the price of these tickets by 20%.

12 Concerning the various types of tariffs that were used by the Companhia de Caminho-de-ferro Portugueses, see Ribeiro (2006).

13 Gazeta dos Caminhos de Ferro de Portugal e Hespanha, 2nd year, nº 33, 21st June 1889, p. 133.

14 Gazeta dos Caminhos de Ferro de Portugal e Hespanha, 2nd year, nº 34, 1st July 1889, p. 150.

15 Cf. Ribeiro (2006).

16 Guia Portátil do Viajante em Portugal e itenerarios das viagens circulatórias em Hespanha e França. 2nd ed., Porto: Tip. Occidental, 1886.

17Gazeta dos Caminhos de Ferro, nº 436, 16th February 1906, p. 62.

18 It was agreed, in an accord with the Federação Internacional de Veículos Antigos (FIVA; in Portugal represented by the Clube Português de Automóveis Antigos, CPAA) that there would be the following categories of classic cars: ‘pioneers’, automobiles constructed up to 1904; ‘veterans’, between 1905 and 1918; ‘vintage’, between 1919 and 1930; ‘post-vintage’, between 1931 and 1945; and ‘post-war’, between 1946 and 1960.

19 O Occidente. Ano 20, vol, XX, nº 655, 10th March 1897, p. 51.

20 Concerning this race, see O Tiro Civil. Revista de Educação Physica e de Sport Nacional, 1st November 1902 and ‘O automobilismo em Portugal’ in Gazeta dos Caminhos de Ferro, 1st November 1902, pp. 321–323.

21 ‘Acidentadas excursões d' Automóvel’ in Ilustração Portuguesa. 2nd series, vol. 1, nº 319, 1912; p. 420.

22 Gazeta dos Caminhos de Ferro, nº 433, 1st January 1906, p. 10.

23 The idea of organising the I Salão Automóvel originated from a race that took place the previous year – the II Circuito do Minho – which ended with an exhibition in the central nave of the Palácio de Cristal. In this exhibition were the automobiles, motorcycles and bicycles that had participated in the race.

24 Article in the Diário de Notícias, cited by Rodrigues (1988: 38).

25 Gazeta dos Caminhos de Ferro, nº 326, 16th July 1901, p. 218

26 Ilustração Portuguesa, 2nd series, vol. 1, nº 319, 1912, p.

27The house of Hermes has its origin in a factory founded in 1837 by Thierry, whose sons later associated themselves with the brothers Adolph and Émile-Maurice Hermes. The company underwent great development, since it knew how to ‘réussir la transition de la civilisation du cheval à celle de l'automobile et s'engager dans la fabrication d'articles destinés à un nouveau genre de voyageurs’ (Bergeron, 1998: 120).

28 Francon (2000: 114).

29 Gazeta dos Caminhos de Ferro, nº 1906, 1st January 1906, p. 10.

30 Journalism related to motoring began in France. There, in 1900, there were 25 publications dedicated to this theme.

31 O Automobilista. Semanário destinado a pugnar pelo desenvolvimento do automobilismo em Portugal, 1st year, nº 4, 16th October 1910, p. 1

32 The International Automobile Conference of 1900 established progress in relation to the automobile: from 1895 to 1898, the first automobiles attained 5 km per hour going up hills, 40 to 50 km per hour on descents and 20 km per hour on the flat. In 1900, automobiles could attain 50 km per hour going up hills, 100 km per hour on descents and 70 to 80 km per hour on the flat. Cf. Studeny (1995: 312).

33João da Costa Couraça - ‘Viação ordinária’ (everyday transport) in Notas sobre Portugal. vol. I. Lisboa: Imprensa Nacional, 1908, p. 785.

34 Gazeta dos Caminhos de Ferro, nº 332, 16th October 1901, p. 333.

35 Idem, nº 363, 1st February 1903, p. 42.

36 Idem, 1904, p. 109.

37 Idem, nº 434, 16th January 1906, p. 26.

38 Gazeta dos Caminhos de Ferro, nº 440, 1st April 1906, p. 126.

39 Mello Matos, ‘As Estradas no Futuro’ in Gazeta dos Caminhos de Ferro, nº 522, 16th September 1909, p. 275.

40 ‘As estradas e o Automobilismo’ in Gazeta dos Caminhos de Ferro, 23rd Year, nº 549, 1st November 1910, p. 324.

41 Gazeta dos Caminhos de Ferro, nº 586, 16th May 1912, p. 155.

42 In these two countries, the railways exploited this service.

43 Gazeta dos Caminhos de Ferro, nº 615, 1st August 1913, p. 235.

44 Annuario do Automóvel Club de Portugal, Lisboa, 1917, p. 10.

45 Idem.

46 O Sport ‘Velo’: revista velocipedica (cycling magazine). Year 1, nº 1, 14th January 1897, p. 3.

47 Concerning the Touring Club of France, see Lavenir (1999: 96 et seq.).

48 Idem, 98.

49 Especially from 1880 onwards, numerous cycling associations were established in most European countries. Concerning France, see Thompson (2002: 136).

50 União Velocipedica Portugueza - Relatório e Contas: gerência de 19 de Julho de 1900 a 31 de Dezembro de 1901, Lisboa, 1902, p. 6.

51 Idem, 1913, p. 3.

52 Idem, 1901, Lisboa, 1902, p. 47.

53Idem, 49.

54 O Occidente. Year 23, vol. XXIII, nº 782, 20th September 1900, p. 210.

55 Boletim da Sociedade de Propaganda de Portugal, nº 2, 1906, p. 15.

56 The Statutes of the Royal Automobile Club of Portugal were formally approved by the Geographic Society on 15th April 1903. King Carlos, an aficionado of motoring, accepted the honorary presidency of this club and Prince Afonso the role of effective president of the board of the general assembly. The presidency of the directorate was entrusted to Carlos Roma do Bocage. Cf. (Silva and Ribeiro, 1990: 16–17).

57 The Automobile Club of France was created in 1895 by Henry Duecthe de La Meurthe.

58 Annuario do Automóvel Club de Portugal, Lisboa, 1917, p. 5.

59 For the Sociedade Propaganda de Portugal, see Matos and Santos (2004).

60 Estatutos da Sociedade de Propaganda de Portugal. Lisboa, 1906.

61 Boletim da Sociedade de Propaganda de Portugal, nº 1, July 1907, p. 12.

62 Report of the Serviços da Repartição de Turismo (I), September 1911 to June 1912, pp. 29 and 31. Quoted by Sérgio Palma BRITO (2003: 454).

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