Celebrity Visitors to LA LUZ PORT
La Luz Port has always been a magnet for celebrities and has been happy to welcome over the years a great variety of distinguished visitors from all over the world. From Alfonso XIII King of Spain to Sir Winston Churchill… We have listed the most remarkable here

The Renowned British scientist Stephen Hawking arrived in La Luz Port on the 8th of October 2014 aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship ‘Independence of the Seas’, where he was travelling to Britain after attending the International Festival for Astronomy in Tenerife.

The ‘Independence of the Seas departed from Pier Santa Catalina en route to his next stop in Lisbon at 17.00. Considered one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Albert Einstein, his work on the origins and structure of the universe, the Big Bang and black holes, has revolutionized the field of cosmology.

In addition, his popular books ‘A Brief History of Time’ (1988), ‘The Universe in a Nutshell’ (2001) and ‘The Grand Design’ (2010), have been translated into dozens of languages and have contributed fundamental way to popularize science of the universe and make it more accessible. Hawking was diagnosed with ALS, a neurodegenerative disease, at age 21, and despite being in a wheelchair and rely on an automated voice communication, has continued to combine his research in theoretical physics, with trips to attend public lectures, conferences and seminars.

Paul Newman

Paul Newman and his wife, Johanne Woodward arrived in las Palmas along with , Zachary Scout and his wife, Ruth Ford, on the 8 of February 1962, on board the luxurious cruise liner “Leonardo da Vinci” which called at La Luz Port then. They visited Caldera de Bandama, took some pictures and after buying some souvenirs drove back to las Palmas.


Agatha Christie


Detective fiction’s greatest writer

Agatha Christie was a tireless adventurer and went all over the world by ship and train. Mary Clarissa Agatha Miller, better known as Agatha Christie, was one of the first women to try surfing and got as far as South America and New Zealand. Oddly, she never made it to Belgium.

Agatha Christie spent a week in at La Orotava and Puerto de La Cruz in Tenerife in February 1927 but didn’t like it very much. She then got on the ferry and came to Las Palmas, describing it as “the ideal place to spend the winter”.She stayed at the Hotel Metropole in the Garden City, now part of the Town Hall. The writer enjoyed the beach and went on a trip to Agaete and Puerto de las Nieves.

Agatha Christie arrived in the Canary Islands just after the end of her first marriage. She was in debt, depressed and struggling to write. The islands had a huge effect on her and she quickly recovered her mojo. She finished ‘The Mystery of the Blue Train’ and started the short story ‘The Companion’, and ‘The Thirteen Problems’. Several other books of hers are clearly inspired by the white houses and bougainvillea of Gran Canaria.

In The Companion one of Agatha Christie’s characters mentions Gran Canaria, saying, “In many ways I enjoyed the life out there very much. The climate was mild and sunny, there was excellent surf bathing…”

She never came back to the Canary Islands which is hardly surprising because she once said, “never go back to a place where you were happy, if you do you will ruin it”.

It is said that in Puerto de la Cruz Agatha Christie completed The Mystery of the Blue Train and she sent it to her publishers. She never felt proud of this book but it sold very well thus putting an end to her economic problems.

Having completed her novel she decided to stay one more week on the island to relax but she was not attracted to stay in Tenerife due to the absence of white sand beaches and on 27 February she moved to the neighbouring island of Gran Canaria. In Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Agatha Christie and her entourage stayed at the Metropole Hotel located midway between Santa Catalina Pier and the city, opposite to Santa Catalina beach. The British Club and the tennis courts were nearby. In its halls Agatha Christie began to write The Companion, one of the mysteries included in her collection of short stories, The Thirteen Problems. This story has clear references to Gran Canaria, particularly to the beach of Las Nieves, located 48 miles from Las Palmas, in Agaete with a population close to 3,500 inhabitants at that time.

On 4 March 1927 Agatha Christie took a steamboat back to England.  We can read at The Companion:

‘I don’t know whether any of you know the Canary Islands,’ began the doctor. ‘They must be wonderful,’ said Jane Helier. ‘They’re in the South Seas, aren’t they? Or is it the Mediterranean?’ ‘I’ve called in there on my way to South Africa,’ said the colonel. ‘The Peak of Tenerife is a fine sight with the setting sun on it’

‘The incident I am describing happened in the island of Grand Canary, not Tenerife. It is a good many years ago now. I had had a breakdown in health and was forced to give up my practice in England and go abroad. I practised in Las Palmas, which is the principal town of Grand Canary. In many ways I enjoyed the life out there very much. The climate was mild and sunny, there was excellent surf bathing (and I am an enthusiastic bather) and the sea life of the port attracted me. Ships from all over the world put in at Las Palmas. I used to walk along the mole every morning far more interested than any member of the fair sex could be in a street of hat shops.

‘As I say, ships from all over the world put in at Las Palmas. Sometimes they stay a few hours, sometimes a day or two. In the principal hotel there, the Metropole, you will see people of all races and nationalities – birds of passage. Even the people going to Tenerife usually come here and stay a few days before crossing to the other island. ‘My story begins there, in the Metropole Hotel, one Thursday evening in January.” And later on: “The following day I had arranged to go for a picnic with some friends. We were to motor across the island, taking our lunch, to a place called (as far as I remember – it is so long ago) Las Nieves, a well-sheltered bay where we could bathe if we felt inclined. This programme we duly carried out, except that we were somewhat late in starting, so that we stopped on the way and picnicked, going on to Las Nieves afterwards for a bathe before tea.”

In a mystery entitled The Man from the Sea, a short story included in her book The Mysterious Mr Quin also written in Canary Islands, the action takes place in an island that Christie locates in the Mediterranean Sea but everything reflects clearly La Paz at Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife. From her description, Agatha Christie had visited the Cologan’s house at La Paz where the central plot to the story is developed. Other typical places also mentioned in this short story are: Sitio Litre Garden and Martíanez Cliffs. For additional information visit Agatha Christie’s Route (in Spanish). 

Source: J.Escribano



Winston Churchill Visit to Gran Canaria

A plaque was recently unveiled at La Luz Port in honour of Winston Churchill, one of Great Britain’s most internationally influential figures of all time, to commemorate his visit fifty years ago. As a guest on the boat of Aristotle Onassis he came to the island for a holiday, as a tourist, and chose to visit Caldera de Bandama and Montaña de Arucas.

Winston Churchill was an incredible and unique character and it was a good thing that a man of Churchill’s stature chose to spend his holidays on Gran Canaria thus increasing the interest of the British to learn more about the history of the island.

Winston Churchill engaged in conversation with Aristotle Onassis

Mr. Wiston Churchill arrived in La Luz Port (Puerto de La Luz) on the 22nd of February in 1959 onboard Mr. Onassis’ luxurious yacht (M/Y Christina) which laid at anchor in front of the Alcaravaneras beach.
The shipping agency in charge of representing the shipowner (Mr.Onassis) during his vessel’s call at Las Palmas was “C.F. Staib y Compañía”. Actually, it was the the owner of the firm (Mr. Kenneth Staib) who acted as a cicerone (guide) for this illustrious visitor.

Churchill went ashore onboard a barge/launch boat at about 15.30 in the afternoon of the same day. That day, Churchill enjoyed a sunny day and passed by the New Hotel Santa Catalina on his way to la Caldera de Bandama. Once in Bandama, Churchill got out of the car for a moment so as to behold the crater. Later he went on up to the peak of the mountain.
After Mr. Kenneth Staib had explained Mr. Churchill about the wonderful views from the top of the mountain, the latter showed is desire to satisfy his thirst for water, however, given the fact that there was no water available around, Churchill told his guide not to worry since he had some “whisky” inside the trunk of the car….

From Bandama, Sir Wiston returned to Puerto de La luz through the Atalaya road towards Telde and the to Las Palmas.

According to a newspaper article written by Mr. Pedro Glez. Sosa on the 22nd of February:

“Upon Churchill return from Bandama, a crowd of people gathered around the place. The British colony stood out by applauding spontaneously. Churchill replied by taking his hat off and saluting the by-standers. He was rather tired, however, he smiled and gave them the V-sign.”

Among ather presents, two beautiful bunches of flowers had been sent to the yacht for the respective wives of Sir Winston and Mr. Onassis (courtesy of Real Club Náutico de Gran Canaria), the president of which, Mr. José Luis Benjumea Medina accompanied by one of the manager directors (Mr. Manuel Gonzalvez Ferreira) and other guests attended the cocktail organized onboard M/Y Christina that night….


Eugene O'Neill


The Irish American Nobel Prize winning playwright, Eugene O'Neill arrived in La Luz Port on board “Aguila” from Yeoward Lines on February 27th 1931

Eugene O’Neill stayed at The Atlantic Hotel in Las Palmas. O’Neill spent most of the time between the hotel working on “Mourning Becomes Electra” and Las Canteras beach swimming and sunbathing to recover from his poor health after being advised by some good friends to do so. He came accompanied by his wife Carlota. On May the 28th they departed from Las Palmas on board the French ship Médie II from the Compagnie from Navigation Paquet bound for Marseille.

MOBY DICK (1956)

MOBY DICK (1956)

The film was a B-movie background to the epic personal battle between director John Huston and would-be Ahab Orson Welles, with secondary roles performed by Gregory Peck and Moby Dick.

Whales are in fact commonly seen around the Canary Islands, and the island of Lanzarote even has a whale museum.

Although mostly filmed off the coasts of Wales, Ireland and Portugal, the final scenes were filmed in the Bahía (Bay) de La Isleta the Canary Islands near Las Palmas, the capital of Gran Canaria island, due to the fact that winter was setting in and the water was getting too cold further north.

The final scene with Richard Basehart floating symbolically and literally on the coffin was also shot there as Spanish coffins are notoriously more comfortable than those of other nations. Las Canteras beach was the focal point of the filming and Moby Dick it (him or her) self was built in the shipyard of Las Palmas in Calle Rosarito, and can still be seen on the island.

Las Canteras is three miles long and the filming took place at the extreme eastern point known as La Puntilla during two weeks at Christmas in 1955.

At Las Canteras you can find the Alfredo Kraus Concert Hall, named after the famous opera singer, where the International Cinema Festival is also held. Source: Silver Screen Spain

Note: The model whale was towed during the filming by a MIller & Co/Cory Brothers tug boat (remolcador).



Prime Minister Harold MacMIllan with Gerald Miller (right) and Ken Park (centre) at the British Club. Gerald Miller (Bristish Consul then) hosted Harold and Lady MacMillan in Las Palmas on 15 February 1960 at the end of their tour of Africa
Courtesy of Mr. William Miller


Prince George, Duke of York arrived in Puerto de La Luz on the 29th of June 1890. James Miller (Gerald’s father) hosted Prince George in 1890 when he was British Consul. The Prince went on an excursion to Teror and rested a few hours in Osorio (Courtesy of Mr. William Miller)
Prince of Wales’ ship – HMS Thrush – The Prince was the Captain of the ship as he was a serving naval officer at the time. HMS Thrush took on coal and 500 gallons of water supplied by Miller & Co.
Gerald MIller and Sidney Head playing tennis with the Duke of York (later KIng George VI) on 11 January 1927. (Gerald is the man with his belt undone)
The story goes in the Miller family that, during the tennis, reports came to Gerald that the Duke’s ship (Royal Naval cruiser) HMS Renown, slipped its anchor by accident and began to drift in the harbour. Elizabeth, Duchess of York was understood to have been aboard. Miller/Cory tugboats frantically tried to catch and make fast the enormous ship, and whilst this was going on, Miller and his colleagues had to prolong the tennis so as to distract the attention of the Duke. Should he have found out it is thought that the ship’s captain would have been disciplined or lost his job. William’s father, Basil Miller (Geralds’s son) was a ball boy at the game aged seven years.

The Duke of York (later KIng George VI) on 11 January 1927 (on the right of the photo). Duke of York’s tennis partner was Ernest Wootton (on the left of the photo).

Description of Duke of York’s visit on 10 January 1927 in Australian newspaper:

He was the first monarch to visit the Canaries in March 1906. He visited the 7 islands and was impressed by their beauty and people’s hospitality.

(A.P.A. Message.)
Las Palmas (Canary Islands).
January 10.

Today the Renown dropped her anchor punctually outside Las Palmas. “Where a tanker was waiting to supply .fl for the long Atlantic trip. Salutes “were exchanged between the ship and the shore. The swell had considerably lessened, and the fears that the royal party would be unable to land were unfounded. The first official function to day was a call by the British consul with Captain Perrera, of the Spanish gunboat Bonlfaz, who was specially attached to the staff of the Duke of York by order of the King of Spain. He was received on the quarter deck with all that simple ceremonial in which the British navy excels. The captain’s guard and the band were on duty, and the boatswains piped them over the Bide. Various consuls and captains paid their, respects to the Duke.
The royal launch was extremely lively alongside the gangway, and the ladies in particular found it difficult to board her, while the remains of yesterday’s swell, which was «(HI running, made the trip ashore not particularly pleasant. The Duke was uniformed in full naval dress. The Duchess wore a simple white costume with a fur stole. The harbor was gay with bunting, and the ships were all dressed. The Spanish Governor of the Canary Islands and other officials received them at the landing, after which their Highnesses were cheered by the crowds which lined the route. They visited Queen Victoria Hospital, met the committee, and chatted with the inmates. Then they went, to the Seamen’s Institute and made an informal call, and finally to the British Club, where they met the British community, including several Indian merchants domiciled in the Canaries.
On their return to the port to re- embark on the Renown the Duke and the Duchess were enthusiastically farewelled by the Spaniards all along the street. The Duke and Duchess were on board again by 6 o’clock in the evening, and entertained the military governor, the civil governor and his Wife, and other dignitaries on board.

Source: THE ROYAL TOUR (Australian Newspaper)

Descripton of Duke's farewell from the Puerto de la Luz in Australian newspaper:

(Australian Pi ess Association )
H U.S. RENOWN, January 11.

The departure from Las Palmas gave the Royal party some inadequate idea of what will happen to them on arrival in Sydney. All the available tugs in the harbor came out of anchorage to bid farevvell reminding all of the much greater assembly of tugs that will throng Port Jackson on March 26. Hovvever, the marine band on the quarter deck was drowned by the noise of the tugs sirens. The last act was the dispatch of a cable message by the Earl of Cavan to the Military Governor, thanking him on behalf of their royal Highness for their reception and the enjoyable experiences of the visit and wishing Las Palmas all Prosperity and happiness.

Sport was the main feature of today. After several hard-fought sets of tennis ashore in the morning, the Duke joined a game of deck hockey in the afternoon, the strenuous exercise emphasizing his excellent physical condition. The Duchess who did not go ashore spent the day quietly on deck and in her own apartments.
She watched the Duke at hockey in the afternoon. Lord Cavan has sufficiently recovered to be able to dine with his Royal Highness this evening.
As an instance of the Duke of York s consideration for every one, when he heard that Captain Sullivan had invited Captain Green of an oil tanker to breakfast, he insisted that he should breakfast with their Royal Highnesses in their own apartments The ship’s football team yesterday played a match with the local club which won by 3 goals to 1.

Source: THE ROYAL TOUR (Australian Newspaper)


King Alfonso XIII was the first monarch to visit the Canaries in March 1906. He visited the 7 islands and was impressed by their beauty and people’s hospitality.

Courtesy of FEDAC
King Alfonso XIII reception at Club Náutico in Las Palmas upon his arrival in 1906.
Courtesy of Mr. William Miller


The third son of Queen Victoria

Duke & Duchess of Connaught were entertained by British Consul Peter Swanston – 20 – 22 December 1910 aboard H.M.S.Balmoral Castle.(Courtesy of Mr. William Miller)
Courtesy of Mr. William Miller
For more info about their visit please visit “The surviving diary of Owen Charles Budd” (Dec. 20th-22nd 1910)

Francisco Franco

1892 - 1975
Franco led a successful military rebellion to overthrow the Spanish democratic republic in the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), and he subsequently established his lasting dictatorship
In 1936, Francisco Franco was appointed General Commandant of the Canaries. He joined the military revolt of July 17 which began the Spanish Civil War. Franco quickly took control of the archipelago, except for a few points of resistance on La Palma and in the town of Vallehermoso, on La Gomera.

In July 1936, Franco lead a revolt against the Popular Front. It started in the Canary Islands, where Franco was governor and spread to Morocco where he had made many contacts in the 17 years he was based there.

Dr David Banneman

1886 – 1979
The famous British ornithologist who worked for the British Museum was entertained by Gerald MIller in about 1912.
Courtesy of Mr. William Miller


He wrote many books including “Birds of the Atlantic Islands”, “Birds of Tropical West Africa”,”Birds of the British Isles” and “The Canary Islands – their History and Scenery”.

He was noted for the discovery of a new sub-species of bird, the Canarian Black Oystercatcher, and for obtaining specimens of the Grand Canarian Blue Chaffinch (Pajarro Azul) for the Museum, and for employing prominent artists to paint the illustrations in his books.
Photo: Courtesy of Natural History Museum

Charles Lindbergh

On 24 November 1933 the famous American aviator, Charles Lindbergh, who made the first solo transatlantic flight in his plane, Spirit of St. Louis, (from New York to Paris), was entertained by Gerald Miller and Ian Kendall Park
(Source: Approximación a La Historia del British Club de Las Palmas, by Nicholas Diaz-Saavedra De Morales, 1988)
Charles Lindbergh portrait on a stamp with the port in the background commemorating the 75th anniversary of his visit to Gran Canaria.

TIRMA - The Island Princess

The Island Princess (Italian: La principessa delle Canarie) is a 1954 Italian-Spanish comedy film directed by Paolo Moffa.

Set on the 15th century, it describes the strong Canarian inhabitants resistance to the occupation of Castilian forces. Refresh troops arrive in Gran Canaria to reinforce the occupants diminishing troops on the frontlines, which are depleted as a result of aboriginal warriors combativeness and resistance.

However, the indigenous ranks are divided.
Guanarteme (Félix de Pomes), King of the natives, wants peace, as well as his daughter, the Guayarmina Princess (Silvana Pampanini). A warrior leader, Bentejuí (Gustavo Rojo), and the great Faycan, high priest, prefer the war. One day, Guayarmina, while
running through the forests, is being chased by Don Hernán (Marcello Mastroiani), who is in love with her and ignores her Princess status. Guanarteme dies poisoned by the great Faycan, who attempts to marry Guayarmina, who in turn is in love with the aboriginal Warrior Bentejuí.

10,000 Miles of Stormy Seas (Doto ichiman kairi)

An adventure film starred by the famous Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune and directed by Jun Fukuda
Captain Murakami takes over as skipper of the Azuma Maru, replacing the well-liked former captain. Murakami forces the crew to work harder than they ever have, creating enmity and exhaustion. Just when the ship has taken a huge catch of tuna in its nets, Murakami learns that his ship is the only one in position to rescue the crew of another ship, sinking in a storm. He must choose between saving the catch or saving lives. Either choice may mean his ruin
Source: Mr. Jim Beaver
The film was shot in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and released in 1966

Jean de Béthencourt

On 11 June 1949 a Jaguar broke loose from its cage aboard the Belgian freighter Christian Sheid and terrified passengers who locked themselves in their cabins for 48 hours.
Jean de Béthencourt (French pronunciation: ​[ʒɑ̃ də betɑ̃kuːʁ]) (1362–1425) was a French explorer who in 1402 led an expedition to the Canary Islands, landing first on the north side of Lanzarote. From there he conquered for Castile the islands of Fuerteventura (1405) and Hierro, ousting their local chieftains (majos and bimbaches, ancient peoples). Béthencourt received the title King of the Canary Islands but he recognized King Henry III of Castile, who had provided aid during the conquest, as his overlord. Jean de Béthencourt was born in Grainville-la-Teinturière, province of Normandy. To finance his expedition he sold his house in Paris valued at 200 gold francs and some other small pieces of property in December 1401.[1] His uncle, Robert de Braquemont, loaned him 5,000 pounds (to which he later added another 2,000)

One of the ships departing for the 1402 Norman expedition (from “Le Canarien”).
Béthencourt set sail from La Rochelle on 1 May 1402 with 280 men, mostly Gascon and Norman adventurers, including two Franciscan priests (Pierre Bontier and Jean le Verrier[1] who narrated the expedition in Le Canarien) and two Guanches who had been captured in an earlier Castilian expedition and were already baptised.

In 1402 Jean de Béthencourt conquered Lanzarote, the northernmost inhabited island. While Gadifer de la Salle explored the archipelago, Béthencourt left for Cádiz, where he acquired reinforcements at the Castilian court. At this time a power struggle had broken out on the island between Gadifer and Berthin, another officer.
Local leaders were drawn into the conflict and scores of Spaniards and islanders died in what was to become a bloodbath of the first months of Béthencourt’s absence. During this crisis, Gadifer managed to conquer Fuerteventura and to explore other islands. It was only with the return of Béthencourt in 1404 that peace was restored to the troubled island. De la Salle and Béthencourt founded the city of Betancuria (as capital of the island of Fuerteventura) in 1404.

Years later Bethencourt was defeated by the aboriginals of the island of Gran Canaria (canarios) in the battle of Arguineguin at south of the island, getting the title of Great.
Christopher Columbus sailed to the Canary Islands in August 1492 Back here to top Bethencourt was defeated by the aboriginals of the island of Gran Canaria (canarios) in the battle of Arguineguin at south of the island, getting the title of Great.
Source: Wikipedia De la Salle and Béthencourt founded the city of Betancuria (as capital of the island of Fuerteventura) in 1404.

the Belgian freighter Christian Sheid

On 11 June 1949 a Jaguar broke loose from its cage aboard the Belgian freighter Christian Sheid and terrified passengers who locked themselves in their cabins for 48 hours.
The ship’s master radioed for help as the ship approached La Luz Port (Canary Islands). He said the jaguar had practically taken possession of the ship. The jaguar could be seen pacing the deck Police at Las Palmas went aboard and shot the jaguar after first efforts to put the jaguar to sleep with meat dosed with veronal had proved unsuccessful. Crowds massed on Las Palmas docks cheered “victory” since the only casualties on board had been four monkeys eaten by the Jaguar.
The vessel was going to Antwerp with a cargo of Brazilian wild animals for the Brussels Zoo.

Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus Sailed to the Canary Islands in August 1492

La Luz Port is also well-known as an ideal refreshment station for ships using this route, as a matter of fact, back in August 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed to the Canary Islands, where he dropped anchor. After restocking provisions and making some repairs, the three vessels weighed anchor on September 6th and finally departed for what turned out to be a five-week voyage across the ocean resulting in the discovery of America. At present, you can visit in Las Palmas a museum called “La Casa Colon” which pays tribute to the famous former resident of the island, Christopher Columbus. Here you can find many interesting facts and memorabilia pertaining to him.

Kemal Reis

The Canaries’ wealth invited attacks by pirates and privateers. Ottoman Turkish admiral and privateer Kemal Reis ventured into the Canaries in 1501.
After leaving Valencia, still in August 1501, Kemal Reis headed south and bombarded the coastal defenses of Andalucia before landing his troops, where the Ottomans raided several ports and towns. Kemal Reis later sailed westwards and passed the Strait of Gibraltar and entered the Atlantic Ocean, where he and his men raided the Atlantic coasts of the Iberian peninsula. From there Kemal Reis sailed southwest and landed on several of the Canary Islands, where the Ottomans faced moderate opposition from the Spanish forces.
Kemal Reis (c. 1451 – 1511) was a Turkish privateer and admiral of the Ottoman Empire. He was also the paternal uncle of the famous Ottoman admiral and cartographer Piri Reis who accompanied him in most of his important naval expeditions.

Phoenicians, Persians and Carthaginians

Phoenicians, Persians and Carthaginians probably landed on the islands about 500 years BC, but Pliny the Elder seems to be the first person to tell about an expedition to the Lucky (Fortunate) Islands led by Juba, Prince of Mauritania, at the time of the Emperor Augustus.

Juba, Prince of Mauritania

Source: wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

Alonso Fernández de
Lugo (the founding of
Santa Cruz de Tenerife)


In 1479, Portugal and Castile signed the Treaty of Alcáçovas. The treaty settled disputes between Castile and Portugal over the control of the Atlantic, in which Castilian control of the Canary Islands was recognized but rights to lands discovered and to be discovered…and any other island which might be found and conquered from the Canary islands beyond toward Guinea.
The Castilians continued to dominate the islands, but due to the topography and the resistance of the native Guanches, complete pacification was not achieved until 1495, when Tenerife and La Palma were finally subdued by Alonso Fernández de Lugo. After that, the Canaries were incorporated into the Kingdom of Castile. In the late Middle Ages, ships from Genoa and Majorca arrived at the islands and by the end of 1496 the Spanish, led by Fernandez de Lugo of “Catholic Kings”, comprehensively conquered the Canaries. They annexed the islands under the Crown of Castilla, dividing them between themselves and beginning the transformation of the vegetated landscape of the archipelago.

Francis Le Clerc

Known as “Pata de Palo” , was a 16th-century French privateer, originally from Normandy. He is credited as the first pirate in the modern era to have a “peg leg”.
He was often the first to board an enemy vessel during an attack or raid. It was this brazen style that eventually caused him to suffer the loss of a leg and severe damage to one arm while fighting the English at Guernsey in 1549. Although many pirates would have had their careers ended by such an injury, le Clerc refused to retire and instead expanded the scope of his piracy by financing the voyages and attacks of other pirates as well.
Despite his wounds, Le Clerc led major raids against the Spanish. In 1553, he assumed overall command of seven pirate craft and three royal vessels, the latter commanded by himself, Jacques Sores and Robert Blundel. This same year he attacked the port of Santa Cruz de La Palma, in the Canary Islands, which he looted and set on fire, destroying a large number of buildings.

Sir John Hawkins

1532 - 1595

The career of the English naval commander Sir John Hawkins touched all aspects of the Elizabethan maritime world from the illegal and inglorious to the patriotic and profitable. His skills helped to ensure the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588.

The second son of William Hawkins, a wealthy West Country merchant trader, John Hawkins was born at Plymouth. As a youth, he made a number of voyages to the Spanish-held Canary Islands, where he first learned of the profits to be made from selling African slaves in Spain’s American colonies. His associates in the Canaries, Pedro Soler and Pedro de Ponte, gave him contacts and legal protection to take slaves over to Guinea which he later sold in the West Indies. In the 1560´s he often visited the Archipelago as a pirate having no hesitation in boarding other slave ships to rob them of their valuable human merchandise.
John Hawkins attacked the island of La Gomera in 1567.

"Cachidiablo" and Dogali

“Cachidiablo” and Dogali nicknamed “El Turquillo”, Corsairs and Privateers from North Africa and Turkey during XVI
Throughout the whole of the XVI century the coasts of the Canary Islands suffered attacks by the corsairs from North Africa and Turkey under the occasional command of Drub “The Devil” or Cachidiablo. The east islands, in particular, were under the constant threat of the barbary pirates and corsairs, who were pirates and privateers operating mainly from North Africa, based primarily in the ports of Tunis, Tripoli and Algiers. San Sebastián de La Gomera was one of the ports in the Canary Islands which suffered from looting and pillaging at the hands of these corsairs. Another renowned privateer was Dogali nicknamed “El Turquillo”, a North African pirate who landed in Arrecife during 1571, they too made it up to Teguise where they ransacked the town and set fire to the parish church.
Photo: Cachidiablo the Pirate

The Battle of Las Palmas

1532 - 1595

The Battle of Las Palmas was an unsuccessful English naval expedition in 1595 during the Anglo-Spanish War against the Spanish island of Gran Canaria. The English Fleet was originally directed towards Puerto Rico, but had taken a detour in hopes of an easy victory and taking supplies. The English expeditionary fleet under Sir Francis Drake, Sir John Hawkins, and Sir Thomas Baskerville failed to achieve victory and was forced to withdraw from the Canary Islands towards the Spanish Caribbean, where Francis Drake died of dissentery at The Mosquito Gulf.

On 18 October 1595, Drake, after his unexpected defeat in his attack on Las Palmas in Gran Canaria, with 27 ships take supplies before departing for America.

However, he saw himself obliged to set sail that same night before a renewed attack by the valiant Canary Islanders who took prisoners and killed some of the English, including Drake’s friend Captain Grimston.

Drake was the most celebrated English seaman after Nelson. He established the milestone of utter naval arrogance and was the second to sail around the world. The island and the actual court of Philip II jubilantly celebrated the important victory over the greatest corsair that history has ever known.

Source: A plaque in Arguineguín

The Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife

The Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife was a military operation in the Anglo-Spanish War (1654–1660) in which an English fleet under Admiral Robert Blake attacked a Spanish treasure fleet that had already landed the treasure at Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Spanish Canary Islands. Most of the Spanish merchantmen were scuttled and the remainder were burnt by the English.

Blake sailed from Cadiz Bay on 13 April 1657 to attack the plate fleet, which had docked at Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands to await an escort to Spain.

Blake’s fleet arrived off Santa Cruz on 19 April. Santa Cruz lies in a deeply indented bay and the harbour was defended by a castle armed with forty guns and a number of smaller forts connected by a triple line of breastworks to shelter musketeers. Seventeen Spanish ships were moored in a semicircle in the harbour under cover of the shore batteries, including seven great galleons of the plate fleet.

On 20 April 1657 Blake totally destroyed another armed merchant convoy, the Spanish West Indian fleet, in the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife – a port so well fortified that it was thought to be impregnable to attack from the sea – for the loss of just one ship, despite being under fire from shore batteries that were and attacking and withdrawing on the tide.

Admiral Sir John Jennings

1664 – 1743
Admiral Sir John Jennings was an officer in the English Royal Navy, a Lord of the Admiralty and Member of Parliament.
On the outbreak of the War of Spanish Succession, Jennings commanded HMS Kent under Admiral Rooke at Cadiz and Vigo (of 70 guns) in 1702, where he played a part in the destruction of the Franco-Spanish fleet. He took part in the capture of Gibraltar, and was captain of the 96-gun HMS St George at the Battle of Malaga in 1704. He was knighted for his exploits by Queen Anne on 9 September 1704, and was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1705, Vice-Admiral in 1708 and Admiral in 1709. His attack on Tenerife in 1706 was unsuccessful.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife underwent an attack by Sir John Jennings in 1706 which was repelled.

Scientific expeditions to the Canary Islands in the romantic period

Sirera and Renn (2004) distinguish two different types of expeditions, or voyages, during the period 1770-1830, which they term “the Romantic period”: First are “expeditions financed by the States, closely related with the official scientific Institutions, characterized by having strict scientific objectives (and inspired by) the spirit of Illustration and progress”. In this type of expedition, Sirera and Renn include the following travelers:
J. Edens, whose 1715 ascent and observations of Mt. Teide influenced many subsequent expeditions.
Louis Feuillée (1724), who was sent to measure the meridian of El Hierro and to map the islands.
Jean-Charles de Borda (1771, 1776) who more accurately measured the longitudes of the islands and the height of Mount Teide
The Baudin-Ledru expedition (1796) which aimed to recover a valuable collection of natural history objects.
Left: Louis Feuillée Right: Jean-Charles de Borda

Pieter van der Does

1562 - 24 October 1599
Pieter van der Does (1562 – 24 October 1599) was a Dutch admiral. He was the son of Jacob van der Does (c.1500-1577), schepen of Leiden during its siege. Pieter van der Does was born in Leiden. In 1586 he became superintendent of the Dutch fleet which witnessed the defeat of the Spanish Armada two years later.
In 1597 he was vice-admiral in the Admiralty of the Maze and in 1599 a vice-admiral in the Admiralty of Amsterdam. In May 1599 he led a Dutch and Zeeland fleet which set out to blockade the Iberian coast as part of the Eighty Years’ War. En route they attacked the Spanish possession of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, but this was heavily defended and the attack was unsuccessful. It then moved to attack Spanish possessions in West Africa around Sao Tomé, where van der Does died, either of wounds received at Las Palmas or of malaria

Rear-Admiral Horatio Nelson

The Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife was an amphibious assault by the Royal Navy on the Spanish port city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Launched by Rear-Admiral Horatio Nelson on 22 July 1797, the assault was defeated, and on 25 July the remains of the landing party withdrew under a truce with the loss of several hundred casualties. Nelson himself had been wounded in the arm, which was subsequently partially amputated: a stigma that he carried to his grave as a constant reminder of his failure.
The attack was successfully repelled by Lieutenant General Antonio Gutiérrez de Otero y Santayana.
In the painting, Nelson’s barge is shown beached in the surf, in port-bow view. Hit on the point of landing he reeled and staggered back into the boat where he lies, having transferred his sword to his left hand. He is supported by a sailor and there is blood on the sailor’s shirt and on the lining of Nelson’s coat. Lieutenant Josiah Nisbet, Nelson’s stepson, stands behind him and is saving his life by staunching the blood. Behind him and to the left are two other lieutenants. Also in the barge and to the right of the group is a third lieutenant grasping a boarding pike, with two sailors behind him. In the left foreground standing in the shallow water is Captain Thompson, arms outstretched towards Nelson, together with another lieutenant. In the left background is a bow view of another boat approaching the beach. In the right foreground the artist has used the waves to enhance the dramatic impact.
Nelson wounded at Tenerife, 24 July 1797. In the painting, Nelson’s barge is shown.
Source: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Greenwich Hospital Collection

Alexander von Humboldt

Alexander von Humboldt was born on September 14, 1769 in Berlin. After 1799, Alexander von Humboldt was one of the most well respected geographers. In that year, he traveled to South America with the botanist Aimé Bonpland on a research trip under the unexpected patronage of the minister Don Mariano Luis de Urquijo (Madrid) who had convinced them to make Spanish America the scene of their explorations. He considered this journey to be the greatest private expedition in history.

Spheniscus humboldti — Humboldt penguin
Dosidicus gigas — Humboldt squid
Lilium humboldtii — Humboldt’s lily
Phragmipedium humboldtii — an orchid
Quercus humboldtii — South American (Andean) oak
Conepatus humboldtii — Humboldt’s Hog-nosed skunk
Annona humboldtii — Neotropical fruit tree or shrub
Utricularia humboldtii — a bladderwort
Geranium humboldtii — a cranesbill
Salix humboldtiana — a South-American willow
Inia geoffrensis humboldtiana — Amazon River Dolphin
subspecies living at Orinoco River basin

Armed with powerful recommendations from the King of Spain, they sailed in the Pizarro from A Coruña, on June 5, 1799, stopped six days on the island of Tenerife to climb the volcano Teide, and landed at Cumaná, Venezuela, on July 16.

John Ordronaux

16 December 1778 – 24 August 1841
John Ordronaux was one of the most successful privateers of the War of 1812 between the United States and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. During the war he commanded two ships, Marengo (after Napoleon’s horse), then Prince de Neufchatel. With these he captured or destroyed about thirty British merchant ships, outran about seventeen British warships and brought back goods to the USA worth between $250,000 and $300,000
Ordronaux later became an officer in the American navy, and was so famous in that role that a warship was named USS Ordronaux in the Second World War.
John Ordronaux , visited Grand Canary on 29 August 1812 and landed 14-year-old James Swanston Miller (1798-1855) in the island having captured the ship on which he was travelling, the Concord (Captain Taylor). Swanston Miller was bound for the island of St Kitts where he had relatives, but his unexpected arrival in Las Palmas was to lead to the establishmentof the dynastic merchant houses of Swanston and Miller in the Canaries
Courtesy of Mr. William Miller

Thomas Miller

Thomas Miller was probably the first to import coal (initially as a domestic fuel), but which led to the huge expansion of the port when steam ships began to arrive.
Source: BASIL MILLER (Canary Saga, 1990)
1. The first member of the family to arrive in the Canary Islands (in 1812) was James Swanston Miller (1798-1855). He founded Swanston & Co. in 1820 which became Thomas Miller & Co in 1854.
2. Thomas Miller Swanston (1805-1885), cousin of James Swanston Miller, founded the first company with the Miller name in 1854.Thomas Miller traded from the Muelle de San Telmo.
3. The senior partner in Miller & Co. by the Santa Catalina mole was James Miller Vasconcellos (1839-1915).
4. The partners in Swanston & Co who built the 19th century Port (Puerto de La Luz) were Juan Swanston (1843-1918) and Joseph Miller Vasconcellos (1840-1920).
5. The third son of Thomas Miller Swanston (1805-1885) was Thomas Miller Wilson (1857-1930) who was a farmer, merchant, banker and agent for Renault cars. He was also a non-executive director and shareholder of Miller & Co by the Santa Catalina mole.
6. The 4th son of Thomas Miller Swanston was Dr William Henry Miller (1859-1936) who was a doctor in Edinburgh and a shareholder in Miller & Co.
7. After James Miller Vasconcellos, the partners in Miller & Co by the Santa Catalina mole were Thomas Hamilton-Miller Parry (1872-1952), Harry Miller Parry (1879-1959) and Gerald Miller Parry (1889-1982), Managing Director of Miller & Co (1919-1939), wartime diplomat & head of intelligence and British Consul from 1945-1964.
8. Basil Miller (1900-2003) wartime naval intelligence officer and later director of Lambert Brothers (shipping) Ltd, the parent company of Miller & Co before the sale to Boluda.

Top: Thomas Miller Swanston (1805-1885), Founder of Miller & Co. and Senior partner in Miller & Co after James Miller
Bottom: James Miller Vasconcellos (1839-1915), senior partner in Miller & Co. by the Santa Catalina mole

Courtesy of Mr. William Miller

Philip Barker Webb

10 July 1793, Milford House, Surrey - 31 August 1854
Philip Barker Webb (10 July 1793, Milford House, Surrey – 31 August 1854) was an English botanist. Born to a wealthy, aristocratic family, Webb studied languages, botany, and geology at Harrow and Oxford. He collected plants in Italy, Spain, and Portugal, and was the first person to collect in the Tetuan Mountains of Morocco.
The text of L’Histoire Naturelle des Iles Canaries took 20 years to complete. Specialists such as Justin Pierre Marie Macquart wrote appropriate parts. Webb’s herbarium was bequeathed to the Museo di Storia Naturale di Firenze in Florence, Italy. PB. Webb (b. 1793-d. 1854) was a rich English gentleman traveling around the world and indulging his love of botany. In the course of his travel from Madeira to Brazil in 1828 he stopped in Tenerife where he met S. Berthelot (b. 1794-d. 1880) who for some years had already been collecting plants and insects from the islands. Mr. Berthelot kindled in him such a deep love for Canary Island nature that Mr. Webb remained in Tenerife for two more years, giving up his journey to Brazil. Over the next twenty years, Mr. Webb and Mr. Berthelot devoted themselves to the drawing up their grand work which was eventually published in Paris in one hundred and six installments between 1835 and 1850.
En route to Brazil he made what was intended to be a brief visit to the Canary Islands, but he ended up stopping for a considerable time, returning after his Brazil expedition. The results can be seen in the nine-volume L’Histoire Naturelle des Iles Canaries, which he coauthored with Sabin Berthelot. In company with Berthelot, who had lived on the islands for some time, Webb collected specimens on the islands between 1828 and 1830.

Sabin Berthelot

4 April 1794 – 10 November 1880
Sabin Berthelot (4 April 1794 – 10 November 1880) was a French naturalist and ethnologist. He was resident on the Canary Islands for part of his life, and co-authored L’Histoire Naturelle des Îles Canaries (1835–50) with Philip Barker Webb.
Source: BASIL MILLER (Canary Saga, 1990)
He first visited the Canary Islands in 1820, where he taught at a school in Tenerife and managed the botanical gardens at Orotava for the Marquis of Villanueva del Prato. Berthelot studied the natural history of the islands. He was joined in this task by Webb in 1828, and by 1830 they had collected sufficient information for publication. They travelled to Geneva, and produced the first volume of L’Histoire Naturelle des Îles Canaries in 1835. Berthelot concentrated on the ethnography, history and geography of the islands, with Webb completing the natural history sections. The ornithological section was mainly written by Alfred Moquin-Tandon. In 1845 Berthelot founded the Société d’Ethnologique. In 1846 he returned to Tenerife, and in 1848 was nominated the French consular agent for the island, being promoted to full Consul in 1867. He retired in August 1874, and was given the freedom of the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Berthelot’s other publications on the islands included Les Guanaches (1841 and 1845), La Conquète des canaries (1879) and Antiquités Canariennes (1879).

Elders & Fyffes Ltd

Elders & Fyffes Ltd introduced the banana to the Canaries as a commercial crop in 1878.
In the 1870s Thomas Fyffe, a London food wholesaler, went into partnership with a fruit dealer named Hudson who had connections in the Canary Islands. In 1878 they shipped their first cargo of bananas to England. Within five years the business had become so successful that they purchased land in the Canaries to be cultivated as banana plantations. Meanwhile, Elder Dempster & Company (a large shipping firm which traded in the Canaries) had observed the success of Fyffe & Hudson and followed suit. In 1898 Elder Dempster’s fruit importing business was extended to Jamaica, which was then the second oldest of Britain’s overseas colonies. To protect the island’s economy the British government agreed to pay a subsidy of £40,000 a year to Elder Dempster to run a regular steamer service to Jamaica and bring large quantities of bananas to the British market. In May 1901 the firms merged and Elders & Fyffes Ltd was established in London. The following year 45% of the capital was purchased by the United Fruit Company of America. Thereafter, the business went from strength to strength using specially constructed ships that ensured the fruit arrived in good condition after the long Atlantic crossing.
Photos: Source Fyffes

Top: The first commercial delivery of bananas arrives in London for E.W. Fyffe Son & Co, from the Canary Islands 1880’s
Bottom: E.W.Fyffe, Son & Co and Hudson Brothers become Fyffe Hudson & Co. Ltd.

Henry Nottidge Moseley

a famous British Naturalist who sailed on the global scientific expedition of the HMS Challenger in 1872 through 1876 visited the Canary Islands in February 1873
They visited Teneriffe from 7 – 14 February 1873, and Moseley published a book about their round the world scientific exploration called “Notes by a Naturalist made during the voyage of HMS Challenger”. In chapter 1 of his book he describes how cochineal was grown and harvested.
Courtesy of Mr. William Miller


JOHANN POLATZEK discovered the Grand Canarian Blue Chaffinch (pinzon azul) which was named after him (Fringilla teydea polatzeki) in 1902
The bird inhabits the high pine forest of Pinus canariensis and is not found anywhere else in the world, although there is a related sub-species in Tenerife. This species is categorised at “Near found anywhere else in the world, although there is a related sub-species in Tenerife. This species is categorised at “Near threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and research programme working hard to find ways of increasing the bird’s population.

Between 1908-1909 Captain Polatzek published “Die Vogel der Canarin” (the birds of the Canaries) in the international ornithological journal IBIS, and in 1919 “List of the Birds of the Canary Islands” in the same journal

Olivia Stone

British roots were established in the Canaries in the nineteenth century through media and literary elements such as Teneriffe and its Six Satellites by the English writer Olivia Stone or The Tenerife News first published on 3rd January 1891. This newspaper was created so that the considerable amount of British people who were coming to the Islands and who could not read Spanish newspapers, would then be able to read about local and national news from the area. This newspaper eventually disappeared, but a new article reporting information to the British members of The Canary Islands came in the form of an extra part of the newspaper El Iriarte, which was called El Iriarte English Supplement. It was only two pages long but represented a written influence of English being pressed upon the Islands as did The Canary Islands Review created in 1903 in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
Her book was first published in 1887 and describes all aspects of late nineteenth-century culture and social reality in the Canaries