Compelling detective stories usually begin with a crime; often a heinous murder. Thankfully this one doesn’t. It begins with a clue – “Guy Attwood from A A H 1898 ““ views of Orotava, Tenerife”.
It’s a clue that teases the little grey cells as the words were found on a photograph album of evocative and rare images of Tenerife at the end of the 19th century.

Recently Cornwall based photographic historian and genealogist Steve Colwill and his partner Karen Willows acquired a treasure chest of a photograph album featuring 42 photographs of life in La Orotava and Puerto de la Cruz in 1898. The images not only show islanders going about their daily business, they also capture the world of the rich and possibly famous visitors who were enjoying Tenerife’s friendly climate from the luxury of the recently built Gran Hotel Taoro above Puerto de la Cruz.

This is where the mystery comes in ““ who are the people in the photographs taken at the Hotel Taoro?

Steve and Karen contacted Tenerife Magazine to ask if we could help put names to the faces and places in the photographs. We in turn sought out expert assistance and contacted Tenerife’s answer to Robert Langdon ““ Kenneth Fisher (except Ken’s much more amusing), the former president of the English Library in Puerto de la Cruz.

Ken has already managed to throw some light on the photographs.

However, whilst he continues to follow up leads and extricate himself from the occasional blind alley, we’d like to ask Tenerife Magazine’s readers to assist by contributing any information at all which may help pull the pieces of this sepia tinted jigsaw together; whether it relates to the people or the locations in the photographs.

If you can’t help you might know someone who can. It might be someone who’s lived in the area for a long time or has Canario friends who have abuelos (grandparents) who may be able to help ““ or who might even enjoy seeing images of their island from the past.

Discovering who may have stayed at the Hotel Taoro around the time the photographs were taken is proving a tricky business. The whereabouts of the hotel’s register is also a mystery, having disappeared after the hotel closed in 1972. Any information or thoughts about where this historic document might be would also be very helpful.

Ox drawn cart - still a common sight at fiestas on Tenerife

Even if the locations and people in the images are a complete mystery to you, the photos offer a wonderful and fascinating glimpse into north Tenerife’s social history.

Anyone who recognises any of the people or places in the photographs or can provide any information at all which they think might be useful can leave a comment here, email us at editor@tenerifemagazine.com or contact Steve and Karen directly at lorgan@helagan.eclipse.co.uk

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