Not so very long ago, Western France was a hotbed of Industry and had large factories employing vast numbers of workers.
Lets have a look at some famous examples and try to colour them .
Angers is today a small town , with small and medium firms making products as varied as disc brakes and card printers, as well as Cointreau and Giffard who make the famous liquors. But not so long ago there was an enormous factory, Bessoneau, who employed 10,000 workers in 1920 and which was spread over 25 hectares on one site and 59 for the total produced 80 tonnes of finished product per week. The factory had its own train station!
The factory closed in 1966 .The factories produced Aircraft hangers ,ropes and steel chords. The metal workshops closed in the early seventies. Bessoneau was a town within a town, At its peak, it had 6kms of railway line inside and 59 hectares of factories over three different sites.However, the factory used hemp fibres and when nylon came in in the 1950’s, Bessoneau had problems adapting to it, and competition from other global factories, as well as the fact that the production was doped by two world wars. Today, there is nothing left of the factory.
The tour à plomb and mills at Angers. Carte postale, Arch. mun. Angers, 4 Fi 773.The next Angers industry I’d like to look at is the Lead production tower, The first factory was , unbelievably, in the Saint-Aubin, tower, now a classified monument in Angers. From 1822 to 1904, lead was melted and formed here. However,there were other lead towers in the town.One at the end of Bout-du-Monde, next to the castle, where there is a long drop, and the second at la Roche-de-Mûrs. Making lead shot requires a great height, to drop the molten lead down into a big cooling pool at the bottom. So workers would have had to carry the lead up some 30 meters, melt it and then ladle it into the containers which then dripped it down to make the lead shots….you needed arms of steel and legs of iron, as well as a head for heights. .