About the guides
Nick Lloyd and Catherine Howley
In 2010 I started to do tours based on the Spanish Civil War in Barcelona.
Initially it was the working class history of my own neighbourhood of Poble-sec which drew me back to reading again George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia which sparked a wider interest in the war in Spain. The tour currently takes three and a half hours and is a chronological route through the history of Barcelona during the Civil War. As such it deals with questions such as George Orwell, revolutionary politics and anarchism, the war as a prelude to WW2, the violence on both sides, the role of women, the International Brigades, Hitler and Mussolini’s parts, the long shadow of Stalinism. the bombing of the city, Francoism and the Spanish republicans deported to Nazi camps l. It is also perhaps uniquely in the world(?) a walking museum. I bring about 40 original artifacts and ephemera in my backpack in my backpack to show clients, each of which tells a story. Many are museum quality.
I honestly never get tired of doing the same tour again and again because I get so many interesting people turning up, who assail me with streams of great questions, some of which I have no idea about and so I have to go home and research them. And so, although the physical routes we take are very similar, it always goes off in odd directions in terms of topics. This is also because people come from many different backgrounds and countries and so often look at the war from the prism of their own countries (say, art and photography, the International Brigades, other conflicts such as the Greek and Finnish Civil Wars and WW2, the Holocaust, etc). People come from many different walks of life (university professors, artists, journalists, film makers, factory workers, history teachers and students, US marines, anarchist activists, lawyers, etc) from almost 50 countries: UK and US first, but also from all across Europe and from countries such as Egypt, Iran, India and China. People have widely differing levels of knowledge from experts in their field of the war to absolutely zero. A considerable number of people are brought by some family connection (International Brigades, Popular Olympiad, Spanish Diaspora). Typical declared prior interests of clients include Orwell, anarchism, anti-fascism, Catalonia, women’s history, photography and the Spanish Civil War as a prelude to WW2. I tell people I like to think what we’re doing is only on the edge of being tourism. There is debate, at times it seems we are discussing the whole history of the 20th century, rather than that of one city. People often also want to talk about politics today
All of this has given me a constant feedback as to what people find interesting which has helped me enormously in writing my 400 page guidebook: Forgotten Places: Barcelona and the Spanish Civil War.
Many of the people I have met are influential figures in their spheres (prominent activists, university professors, journalists). I have been featured in The Guardian, inews, Ara (Catalan), El Periodico (Spanish), and a number of other newspapers. I wrote the blurb on the Civil War for the 2013 edition of Time Out guide to Barcelona and have been prominently featured in the new 2022 edition of Lonely Planet guide to Barcelona. I also do popular monthly tours with Barcelona Cemeteries in Spanish and Catalan to the mass grave where more than 1700 of Franco’s victims are buried. I also give regular talks for schools and local associations on aspects of the Spanish Civil War. During lockdown when in-person tours became impossible I managed to get by doing a series of reasonably successful virtual tours. Aside from making a bit of needed cash and keeping me sane, I also learnt a huge amount about the Civil War and other aspects of Spanish, Catalan and Barcelonan history through preparing around 25 routes and taking people around them virtually.I am currently writing a book within the genre of travel literature with the working title Travels into Iberia and am researching a longer term project on the general history of Barcelona.
I have more than 13,000 followers on Twitter with a high level of engagement with my posts.
I have recently been featured in a number of popular podcasts:
- Brigadistas: Ireland and the Spanish Civil War
- Working class history. The Spanish Civil War (2 episodes)
- When in Spain
- Co-founder and organiser of the annual Barcelona Orwell Day (2013-2023).
- Creator together with Catherine Howley of exhibition at Poble-sec Library in Barcelona. The International Cultural Memory of the Spanish Civil War.
- Creator of map and leaflet La Guerra Civil y el Movimiento obrero en Poble-sec y Montjuïc and a wall map displayed permanently in the same library.
- Co-creator and co-founder of Amigce The Association of the International Museum of the Spanish Civil War, a shelved project which was aimed at creating a museum based in Barcelona dedicated to the Spanish Civil War. It was featured along with my tours in this article in The Guardian.
- Creator of exhibition unfulfilled project: The natural history of the Spanish Civil War
- I was a regular contributor to the Barcelona Metropolitan specialised in history and geography. Some, though by no means all of my articles are archived here.
I studied History of Art and Architecture and Hispanic Studies in Trinity College Dublin, where I specialised in Spanish Golden Age painting. My undergraduate thesis on ‘Blasphemy in Art: Blasphemous Christian Themes in Contemporary Fine Art’
I came to Spain in 2007 and spent over a year in Granada studying Spanish history, literature and Islamic art and architecture. I moved in Barcelona in 2010 where I completed a post-grad in Museum studies at the Pompeu Fabra university in 2013 and spent 7 months working in the Museu Nacional d’Art Catalunya in the communications department.
I have a deep interest in the social history of Spain – and living in Barcelona for 4 years has helped fine-tune that interest towards pre-civil war and civil war history and politics and how that helped shape the city of Barcelona as we know it today.
I also do another tour which I designed myself focused on the events and movements in Barcelona leading up to the Spanish Civil War. As such it has a strong emphasis on anarchist history and covers themes such as industrialisation, the conditions of the working class in Barcelona, anarchism and the Tragic Week.
Member of Amigce, The Association of the International Museum of the Spanish Civil War is aimed at creating a museum based in Barcelona dedicated to the Spanish Civil War.