The Government will demolish the controversial Mondragó beach bar to restore dune habitats. | M. NADAL

It’s one of my favourite Mallorca stories - how Sa Pobla came to lose its beach. It vies with the one about how Sa Pobla almost had its own port. Really, there was a town hall plan for this in 1928. Ships would have gone up the Albufera Gran Canal. Had there been a port, the beach would surely have remained a Sa Pobla possession. But there was to be no port, and the town hall successfully managed to negotiate away what is now the main part of Playa de Muro to its neighbour in 1954.

Eight years before this, the writer Miquel López Crespí was born in Sa Pobla. He has recalled the summer of 1954. The agreement with Muro had been signed in May, but the change had yet to come into effect. That summer was to be the last for Sa Pobla beach. After 1954, as he has noted, the people of Sa Pobla could obviously still go to the beach, but as the municipal ownership had altered, they were not allowed to do what they had been doing for many summers. And that was to create a makeshift little village right on the beach.

Small huts were put up for the summer by some fifty families They called this village Ses Casetes, not to be confused with Ses Casetes des Capellans, the permanent cottages further along the beach. Crespí hasn’t gone into detail, such as what sort of hygiene facilities they had, but he has explained that there was a bar as well. It was known as Figuera. Reflecting on the loss of the beach and then of the great changes that occurred because of tourism, he has written: “Nothing now remains of that full moon in August at Bar Figuera when the owner, Jaume, would sing some of the old songs, accompanying himself with his peasant ximbomba.”

How had this arrangement ever come about, do you suppose? It’s a good question, the answer to which would probably require a trawl through municipal archives, if one could be sure of finding something documented. It’s doubtful that there ever was anything formal. People just used to go to the beach with their shanty materials and dismantle the huts at the end of the summer.

Town halls did have inspectors, as Club Méditerranée discovered in 1950 when setting up the tented summer village on another part of that long beach on the bay of Alcudia - what became known as the French Beach. But Club Med was for foreigners, and Alcudia town hall was minded to extract some dues in return for using the beach. In Sa Pobla, they were all village people who already paid their dues. The beach was free space, and a space, moreover, little affected by regulations. Jaume and his ximbomba wouldn’t have been bothering anyone as there wasn’t anything much there - no hotels, for instance.

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There would have been no noise or environmental rules; no prohibitions regarding a barbecue; no Costas Authority required to give its permissions for everything and anything on the beach and on land “influenced by the sea”. There had been laws for some decades regarding ports and coastal land, but these weren’t micromanagement. That only really began as a result of the 1988 Coasts Law, by which time other institutions - town halls, regional governments - were in full ordinance mode.

So in 1954, the people of Sa Pobla were able to enjoy their beach one last time without anyone to bother them and without their bothering anyone or any authority. They installed their huts and then took them away, the only interference with the environment (other than maybe the hygiene question) probably having been cutting down reed from Albufera to be used as roofs. But that would have been neither here nor there, given the abundance and the fact that reed grows so fast.

In a peculiar sense, the Costas Authority of the current day would have been approving of the villagers. Temporary structures on beaches, if there are to be structures at all, are what the guardians of the coasts demand, this guardianship now ever more local, since responsibilities were devolved to the Balearic government.

The Costas and the regional environment ministry are almost as one, and their harmony is such that permanent beach bars - ones in existence for many a year - have been disappearing. Even where replaced by temporary demountable bars, the impulse is to reduce their number, as on Es Trenc beach.

In Cala Mondragó, the bar will go. The government has decided that dune habitats of regional community interest (affected by this bar) will be restored under the plan for the Mondragó Nature Park (like Es Trenc, therefore). Once this restoration has been carried out, it may be possible to have a demountable bar for the summer. A sort of back to the future, you might say. Except in today’s future there are all the authorities they never needed on Sa Pobla’s beach.