This story is about a memorial to an English man who had died by the Cliffside near the Santander's lighthouse, in the North of Spain. The walk is wild, rough, and beautiful. Moreover, the story has different aspects in relation with friendship and loss.
The story takes place in Santander although his main character is Jose Jackson, who was born in Cadiz in 1852, at the opposite side of the Spanish map. Jose was the son of a writer and an actress. He wanted to follow the familiar tradition, but theatre was not very profitable in those times, and he preferred the value of a regular income as well. He sat exams for the Telegraph Services and was admitted in 1871. Jose was sent directly to Santander and he started to work in telegraphy and to develop technical works about this technology in different journals.
By 1876, Jose Jackson rose to manager of the Semaphore signal operation and he was in charge of training new staff. At 1879, he had secured his first award for his poetry and he had started his family. But his luck runs out when his wife died in Madrid in 1884, aged 27, leaving him a widower with five children. After one year Jose remarried the daughter of a telegraph officer from Asturias, Amalia, who also died young in 1914, aged 48.
All this time, Jose and his family moved around Spain. But although he was busier than ever, the family returned to Santander in the summertime (as it happens today with a lot of tourists from Spain). Jose was on holidays in the city, when the English man William joins the story.
Jose’s grandfather was English. And Jose’s grandfather was a friend of the visionary that devised the pre-paid penny stamp in 1840, Sir Rowland Hill. The friendship between both families had been maintained through the generations and the stamp creator’s grandson, William Rowland, visited Santander and met up with Jose Jackson. One morning a mortal accident happened when Jose and William were on a ride around Santander´s Cliffside.
Jose documented the day of the accident, “One dear friend from my childhood – William Rowland – was one of my most frequent visitors in the summer months and even into Autumn. Sadly in September 1889, Rowland and I were out for a gentle ride close to the cliffs, when the sea – breaking with more thunderous fury than usual over the rocks – frightened the horse on which my friend was mounted to such extent that he threw him off. The result of this bad fall was a hard hit on the head – a fractured skull – that led to his immediate death. The horse lost balance and tumbled over the cliff."
William’s body was sent to England for burial there. It’s not clear exactly when and why but Jose personally commissioned this neo-gothic memorial (that you can see in the pictures) at the site of the accident, by the cliffs in Santander.