Friday, 3 August 2007

France: Brittany

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See also: France, Normandy, Caen.

Brittany has examples of many of the national and regional foundries, notably those of Flers. Nevertheless, perhaps because of its remoteness, it has preserved a number of local examples. One of the main regional foundries is the Fonderie du Pas, whose products are found across Brittany.

Ville de Brest. FQL. The initials stand for Fonderie Quereuel-Lorfeuvre, located in Flers, Orne.

Lanfains, Côtes d'Armor, Le Pas. Fonderie du Pas

Formerly Usine Métallurgique du Pas, this foundry is one of the largest in Brittany, suplying towns across the region. The abbreviation C. du N. stands for Côtes-du-Nord, the former name of Côtes-d'Armor. On variant castings the départment number, 22, is also found.

On 6 August 1828, César René de Choiseul was authorised to erect a tall furnace for the treatment of iron ore on the site of one of the flour mills which he owned on the pond at Le Pas, on the edge of the Lorge Forest. The ore used to feed it came from mine workings situated on the Bas-Vallon, the fuel from the Lorge Forest and the limestone from Cartravers, in the Harmoye where the local count exploited a marble quarry and a limekiln. At the start of its activity the the metalworks at Le Pas, devoted solely to the production of cast iron, consisted of a large pond with an area of 1.5 hectares which provided motive energy, a tall furnace 12.5 meters high situated below the causeway of the pond, the accommodation of the director and master founder, a building containing stables and the main hall of the foundry, composed of three sections contaning the casting shop, the blast furnace and the forge. Near the tall furnace were located a furnace to roast the local ore and a coke furnace to carbonise the coal.

In 1835, 25,000 to 30,000 barrels of coal were used to produce 800,000 kg of cast iron. In 1837 the establishment was acquired by J.-M. Allenou who acquired at the same time the Lorge Forest, the Château de l'Hermitage, the mine at Bas-Vallon, the quarry and the limekilns at Cartravers. Three years later production rose to 1,000 tonnes of cast iron, rising to 3,000 tonnes in 1870. In this period the factory produced crude iron, cast iron and moulded steel mixing the local ore with ore from Bilbao, the coke being purchased from Newcastle. In 1864 a report of the chief engineer charged with the control of mineral and matallurgy industries reported that Breton foundries suffered great difficulties because of the rising price of fuel and foreign competition, particularly that of England whose products were much cheaper.

The undertaking benefitted greatly from the opening of the railway line Saint-Brieuc-Pontivy, a godsend for the commercialisation of its products. A siding facilitated the delivery of raw materials and the dispatch of finished products. The chapel, which still survives, although in a derelict state, was erected in 1852. From 1880 the factory was subject to the competition of the Forges et Laminoirs des Côtes-du-Nord established at the end of the Second Empire at Saint-Brieuc, Côtes d'Armor, and consequently transformed itself into a secondary foundry; the extraction of ore became less and less economic and the foundry made use of a furnace for the casting of recycled iron and steel.

In 1906 the undertaking was acquired by Adolphe-Henry de Villeneuve who transformed it into a partnership (société en nom collectif) during World War 1. During the first decades of the 20th century, although the factory suppled the Navy and the railways, its production was aimed above all at the needs of the local economy and consisted mainly of the manufacture of agricultural machinery and other mechanical products as well as highway ironware and manhole covers. During the First World War it manufactured hand grenade casings.

In 1923, the firm set up a branch at the port of Le Légué, at Saint-Brieuc, Côtes d'Armor. In about 1950, the society became a SARL (limited liability company) after having taken over the Fonderie du Légué, at Saint-Brieuc. Also in 1950 the factory was linked to the electricity network. In 1957 it took over the Foundries of Servon, Ille-et-Vilaine and Tanvez, at Guingamp, Côtes d'Armor, to give birth to the united Fonderies du Pas et Brisou. The factory then functioned with two furnaces. The factory became insolvent on 7 April 1977 and finally ceased to operate on 30 November 1978. The industrial buildings (foundry, furnace, machine hall, workshops), situated just downstream from the pond were entirely destroyed in 1981; all that partially remains from the site are the accommodation for workers in the west and in the east the manager's residence as well as the chapel.

The total area of the factory was more than a hectare. In 1840 the factory employed 300 workers with 400 in 1870. At the time of its insolvency there were 100 employees at Le Pas, 120 at Servon, Ille-et-Vilaine et 100 à Guingamp, Côtes d'Armor.

Reference: MORIN, Claude. "Un patrimoine industriel disparu: heurs et malheurs de la Fonderie du Pas." Le Quintinais, 1997, p. 5-13.

Source: Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication (Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles de Bretagne, Service Régional de l'Inventaire. Inventaire général, 2003.

Fonderies du Pas. Seen in Clécy, Calvados
Fonderie du Pas, C. du N. Seen in Port Louis
Fonderie du Pas. Seen in Port Louis
Fonderie du Pas. Seen in Brest
Kerjulaud, Lorient. Seen in Pont-Aven
Ville de Nantes, Egouts.
Ville de Nantes, G.M.Bouhyer, Ancenis, Egouts.
Ville de Nantes. Egouts. A more traditional design.
Ville de Nantes. Fonderie Dourguinon, La Rochelle.
La Rochelle
Fonderie Dourguinon, La Rochelle. A manhole cover for Nantes.
Ville de Roscoff

Link to introductory page
See also: France, Normandy, Caen.