Luz – Panorama 3 May 2017

The BBC did a 10th anniversary special Panorama on 3 May 2017, regarding the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. In it, towards the end, they featured an interview with Senhor Vitor dos Santos. He had a senior job at the Ocean Club in 2007, had been working there for some 18 years, and the following year, he was made redundant, with a letter claiming this was due to the Madeleine fallout.

Senhor dos Santos then became a small-boat captain, taking tourists for a trip around a natural sea-wonder a few kilometres south of Lagos.

The stash of photos I found recently contains dozens and dozens of old Lagos. I find them interesting to flip though, because I can match many of them up to the modern day Lagos that I know. However, I don’t wish to get into documenting the history of Lagos.

So the following photo is only presented because it matches up with the Panorama interview of the intrepid boat-captain. This photo is simply dated as the 1940s.

Make up your own mind about what is going on here.

Personally, I am not seeing a tourist trip, with a boat captain making a living from this. I am seeing a family day out, a working group having a bit of fun time.

From the shadows, it looks like the sun is at its peak in midsummer.

The lens flare through the centre of the photo is entirely original. And I have no idea how this photo was posed.

Luz fishermen on beach – Life magazine

The following photo contains such a limited amount of information about Luz that at first I was not going to publish it.

I could get a rough idea of the season and the time of day, based on the direction and the length of shadows, but not the year.

However, I was intrigued by the Life logo on the photo, so I did a little digging.

Life ran as a photo based magazine from Nov 1936 when it was bought by Henry Luce. It was based in New York, and though it was aimed primarily at a US audience, it is supposed to have been read by Sir Winston Churchill. So that cut the possible date range down a bit.

A second check turned up near matching images in photo libraries. The key one is Getty Images, atícias/portuguese-men-standing-on-beach-fotografia-de-notícias/50639711?#portuguese-men-standing-on-beach-picture-id50639711 It is simply entitled Portuguese men standing on a beach.

The critical difference with the Getty Images version is that it does not have the Life logo.

Neither of the versions identify the location as Luz, nor identify the men as fishermen. That additional information appears to have been added by someone who recognised the hill shape behind, and Rocha Negra. Since the men are clearly not tourists, labelling them as fishermen seems pretty safe.

The sequence of events appears to be as follows. A photographer, Eliot Elisofon, took the photo and Getty Images acquired the rights. The Getty Images version is dated 1 Sep 1948. Then Life paid for publishing rights, added a Life logo, and put it in its weekly magazine.

Unless I get my hands on the relevant Life magazine, I cannot be certain whether any accompanying article mentions Luz, but the evidence thus far suggests not.

If that is the case, then nearly 50 years before Madeleine McCann disappeared, Luz had 60 seconds of fame in the US, even if not by name.

Luz fish factories – date unknown

This photo is entitled the Luz fish factories, with an unknown date.

Only the basics of Luz seem to be in place. The Fortaleza and Nossa Senhora da Luz are there. A few luxury houses have been built on Rua Primeiro de Maio. More or less nothing has been developed to the east of the church until you hit the fish factories. It is all open land.

There does not seem to be a lot of boats on the beach. Perhaps they were elsewhere.

Moving to the right hand side in the centre, we have the fish factories. I cannot say how many of these buildings were actually fish processing plants. I believe the large white building still stands in one form or another. The location is at the bottom end of Rua Praia da Luz, beside the market stalls. I suspect most of the rest has been demolished.

Part of that main building is now Café a Fábrica, where fabricar means to make, to process or to fabricate things. In other words, the café is paying homage to a fish factory.

Please store this view in your mind. Most of what you can see will disappear in coming photos. Much of the empty spaces would soon be built over.

It is Luz evolution in progress.

Portugal Daily – CMTV expands into France

CMTV starts Thursday 6 July 2017 broadcasts to France, through Orange, one of the biggest operators of French cable television.

Viewers in France will be able to follow the same broadcast as the Portuguese viewers who follow the channel, either through MEO or through NOS.

With the expansion of broadcasts to France, CMTV takes another step towards internationalisation.

The broadcasts started in Canada on July 1, and the channel has already transmitted to Angola and Mozambique.

In Portugal, CMTV is the absolute leading channel in cable television.


This news item is interesting. Angola and Mozambique speak Portuguese, dating back to when Portugal had an overseas empire.

Quite why viewers in non-Portguese-speaking countries such as France or Canada should be following CMTV is beyond me. It is not clear if France is going to get reports in French, or they will literally be the same as those broadcast in Portugal via MEO and NOS.

Here is a piccy from the ‘news’ item that amused me. As far as I can tell, the relevant part says ‘Keep Calm – ask for paradise’.

Luz at the beginning of the 20th century #2

Here are more photos of Luz supposedly from the early 20th century. I cannot discern anything in them to confirm this date, but I have no reason to assume the date is inaccurate.

Although early 20th century appears to have little to do with Madeleine McCann, it does put into context how Luz evolved up to the time that the Ocean Club was built. That in turn impacts the fact that the Ocean Club is not a private complex. Rather, it is completely interwoven with public roads and areas. That in turn means that it is impossible for the Ocean Club to have CCTV, with the exception of a few internal areas.

If these photos are really from around the 1900s, there is an implication. Today, Luz regularly gets an influx of visitors from Lisbon and Oporto. I was having a sea-front discussion on 2 May 2017, and the café had a large contingent of Portuguese customers, in groupings which looked like tourists rather than locals. But Lisbon is 3 hours away in a modern car on a modern motorway. How long did it take in horse-drawn transport or early cars?

Have a look at this photo.

These are the rocks to the south of the Fortaleza, and the view is east towards Rocha Negra. The ladies appear to be dressed in their Sunday finest. The photo is as posed as posed can be. It looks as if someone may have hand-tinted the photo to add some red effects to the clouds, but that could have other explanations, such as originating with the scanning process.

I have no expertise whatsoever in Portuguese historical clothing, so I cannot use it as a clue.

However, the length of time today for the trip from Lisbon suggest this group is not from there, but much closer. I have already posted photos of early Luz, which show some large buildings on 25th April Street, so a possibility is wealthy citizens of Luz, perhaps after a Sunday visit to Nossa Senhora da Luz.

Gonçalo Amaral raises an alternative possibility in his book A Verdade da Mentira. He suggests that Luz had a certain popularity with the citizens of Lagos, and in the early 20th century, that journey would not have been hard either by horse and carriage or by early motor transport.

Here is another photograph, this time taken near the small beach, to the west of the main beach.

The clothes appear to me to be slightly less up-market, though I would still describe them as posh. This is less posed, but the thing that is interesting is that everyone is on the rocks. No-one is actually on the little beach.

The 1492 in the bottom has no real significance. The Fortaleza was built much later. I have yet to find out what Vivenda Mascarenhas means.

This last photo simply gives a pictorial idea of the scale of fishing in Luz a century or so ago.

The legend says ‘fishermen washing the nets on the beach.’ Presumably, the catch has been taken into Luz to be processed, and the nets need to be cleaned of fish remains before storing them.

It looks like 8 sailing ships to me, each much larger than a row-boat, and each powered by sail. There are 13 fishermen involved in this washing of the nets. I don’t know whether this is the only net used, or whether each boat came near the beach in turn and the collective then helped to wash that particular net.

From the size of the mesh, it looks like they were fishing for very large fish, such as tuna.

The fishing industry in Luz would slowly decline, and cross over with the tourist industry when it began to take off.

Grégory Villemin via Anne Guedes

Anne Guedes dropped a link into my blog about the cold case story of Grégory Villemin. The programme was a French talk show discussion of the case. It happens to have a short section on the Madeleine McCann incident. I made the mistake of not doing some research on Grégory beforehand, so I was labouring under French that I learned over 40 years ago and have seldom used since. The case is also known as Little Grégory, the Grégory Affair, and the French equivalents thereof.

The Villemins had been getting unsigned letters and anonymous phone calls from a male threatening revenge against Grégory’s father, Jean-Marie Villemin. It appears that in France, the sender of such anonymous letters becomes The Crow – Le Corbeau.

On 16 Oct 1984, the Villemins received a phone call, saying the boy had been taken and thrown in a river. Grégory’s body was found in a river 7km away. His hands and feet had been bound with rope.

On 17th Oct 1984 the Villemins received another anonymous letter stating “I have taken revenge”.

Based on handwriting analysis, a cousin of the father came under suspicion. He was released without charges, but Jean-Marie publicly vowed to kill him. On 25 Mar 1985, Jean-Marie shot dead his cousin, Bernard Laroche, and served 5 years in prison for murder.

Also due to handwriting analysis, Grégory’s mother, Christine Villemin, came under suspicion, but was eventually cleared.

At various points in time, the case has been re-examined, due to advances in DNA testing.

In June 2017, based on new evidence, 3 people were arrested. One has since been cleared. The other two, a great-aunt and great-uncle have invoked their right to silence.


The programme is at The section on Madeleine McCann starts around 46.30.

I do not intend getting involved in Grégory’s case. I only do Madeleine’s case because Operation Grange conducted an expensive, farcical dig in Luz in June 2014. However, Grégory’s story is sufficiently interesting to do this single post.

My thanks to Anne for bringing this case and the programme link to my attention.

Portugal – Pedrógão Grande extra

I had thought I had made my last post on the Pedrógão Grande fire that killed 64 people, but it appears not.

I wanted to avoid the aftermath of funerals, tales of burnt out houses, and recriminations about who could and should have done what when.

However, a development yesterday means I need to rejoin the fray.

The IPMA, the Portuguese equivalent of the Meteorological Office, has said it has analysed the data around the time that the fire allegedly stared.

I have no expertise in IPMA capability in Portugal in 2017, so I have to run with what has been reported.

It has been stated that in the period of 5 minutes before the start of the fire and 5 minutes after, there were 10 lightning strikes, but of these only 2 reached the ground.

There were 3 lightning strikes ‘close’ to the start point, but these were 3 hours or more after the blaze started, and the nearest was 7.3km (4.5mls) from the alleged source.

How is this record building up? It seems the fire was first reported to emergency services at 2.43pm, and this is being used as the time of origin. I haven’t a clue as to how the IPMA measures lightning strikes, gains a location for them, or works out whether they were ground strikes or not.

It seems the recriminations have started. It is claimed the emergency services were slow to respond, to both the fire and the resulting injuries. This happens to be the part I particularly wished to avoid, because I have no idea what a reasonable response is. And with 64 dead, this angle is likely to get very sour indeed.

The IPMA says the weather was high temperature, low humidity, extreme dryness, and that for 50 minutes around 7.50pm, the blaze was fanned by high winds.

The IPMA thinks the probability that the source was a lightning strike is very small, though it has not ruled this out entirely. This of course raises the question as to which alternative source might be likely for the 64 deaths.