Delfim Ferreira (1888-1960)

A visionary, innovator and entrepreneur

Delfim Ferreira (1888-1960) was born in the parish of Riba d’Ave, municipality of Vila Nova de Famalicão, son of the great industrialist, Narciso Ferreira, who, from a small manual factory, built the largest textile factory in Portugal in the second half of the 19th century.

He graduated from the Royal and Imperial School of Reichenberg and followed in his father’s footsteps in the textile and electrical sectors. His many achievements in the textile area include the foundation of the “Fiação e Tecidos de Algodão” and “Empresa Nacional de Sedas” factories, both in Arcozelo, Vila Nova de Gaia; the “Fábrica de Fiação e Tecidos de Algodão” in Vila do Conde; and the “Sociedade Industrial de Mindelo” in Mindelo, municipality of Vila do Conde.

In the electricity sector, between 1918 and 1933, he collaborated with his father in the creation and development of the Companhia Hidro-Elétrica do Varosa which, from 1928, provided electricity to the municipalities of Vila Nova de Famalicão, Santo Tirso, Matosinhos, Gaia and Vila do Conde. Later, he installed four large power plants in the Ermal Hydro Power Plant that took electricity to the city of Porto. The merger of the Varosa and Ermal power plants gave rise to “Chenop – Companhia Hidro-Elétrica do Norte de Portugal”, that was nationalised in 1975 and became part of the EDP – Eletricidade de Portugal universe in the following year.

Entrepreneur and visionary, Delfim Ferreira also expanded his business into other economic sectors, like civil construction, boosting the whole Vale do Ave region and providing jobs for thousands of workers. He contributed to the development of the cities of Lisbon and Porto with the construction of a vast and valuable real estate portfolio. In Lisbon he built several buildings in the Avenidas António Augusto de Aguiar and Sidónio Pais; in Porto, he built large residential blocks in Rua Sá da Bandeira; he built the Hotel Infante Sagres, the city’s first 5 star hotel; and the Palácio do Comércio, an impressive building in downtown Porto where Predial Ferreira is still based today.

He also left behind many other good works by building schools, kindergartens and hospitals. Whenever his companies generated resources, Delfim Ferreira invested them in real estate.

His great entrepreneurial skills were recognised by the Government, which invited him to promote projects of national importance. He was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Industrial Merit, the Military Order of Christ, the Grand Officer of the Order of Industrial Merit and the Vila do Conde Municipal Gold Medal.

He also owned the Casa de Serralves, currently a house-museum held by the Serralves Foundation, where he lived until his death in 1960, at which time he was considered the richest man in Portugal.