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Villeneuvette, the Royal Manufacturer

 

In 1673, Pierre Baille, a sheet-making merchant from Clermont-de-Lodève (Clermont l’Hérault) bought a smallholding and a mill to make cloth on the banks of the river Dourbie.

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 Entrance to the Royal Factory of Villenuevette at sunset - JPEG - 17.1 kb
Entrance to the Royal Factory of Villenuevette at sunset
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Very rapidly he was able to develop his property. All of this went to make up the first manufactory. Some years later, Montpellier financers started to become interested and André Pouget who was the Managing Director of the Gabelles in the Languedoc took control from 1676. A year later a royal edict approved the new Royal Manufactory:

« We have given our approval to the establishment that was made under our good pleasure of a Manufactory of sheets at Villeneuve-lez-Clermont, diocese of Lodève in our province of Languedoc » Louis XIV, edict of 20 juillet 1677.

With the Royal title, the Manufactory started to develop through exporting to the Near East, so as to withstand English and Dutch competition in the textile market. At the same time in the Languedoc, the Canal du Midi and the Port of Sete were being constructed in order to facilitate regional economy and exportation.

The Manufactory made fine quality sheets requiring the same place of fabrication for the different stages. These sheets were destined for the Ottoman Empire, enthusiastic for this kind of material. In 1720, the Manufactory was sold to Guillaume Castanié d’Auriac (son of a sheet maker) who gave it a new boost. His contribution to its embellishment was notably a garden in the French style, ornamented with a great water cascade. The factory’s owner changed hands several times before being taken over by the Maistre family. In the beginning of the 19th century, almost 800 workers were employed at Villeneuvette of which 200 lived on the premises, and the others in the surrounding area. It was a real economic booster for the region.

The Maistre family : 1803-1954

At the beginning of the 19th century the Maistre family, owners of a tannery in Clermont l’Hérault, took over the factory as a family business for more than a century of five successive generations up to 1954, date at which it closed down. Joseph Maistre, the precursor, had been able to adapt to the new economic situation by developing the fabrication towards making sheets for army troupes. He was at the origin of the industrialization and mechanization of the factory. The work was hard, the rules were strict: workers had a right to certain privileges given by their “master”: school for the children, allowances in case of illness, free accommodation and garden, a savings bank, 1% of salary went to pay a teacher and into a fund for help and medical expenses, a social security before its time. All this meant that there had only ever been a strike of one day in 1917. This was the only conflict that took place at the Manufactory which worked full-time during World War I, but between the two wars it was difficult as the State orders diminished in favour of fabricants that were more competitive. The post-war period marked the end of the Manufactory

The Manufactory was almost completely self-sufficient. Right from the 17th century there was a grocery for staple foods, some small businesses (baker, joiner) and even a doctor. All this was to encourage the workers to stay.

To see

 Place Louis XIV - JPEG - 18.4 kb
Place Louis XIV
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  • The imposing gated entrance
  • The church with the fresques of Jacques Pauthe
  • The factory Manor
  • The village square
  • The great pond
  • The chimney tower
  • The water cascade
  • The bridge of Love and its legend
  • The hiking trail around the ancient hydraulic network

Villeneuvette is an atypical and timeless village. Come and discover the unusual accommodation in this ancient sheet-making establishment with a well-reputed, gastronomic hotel/restaurant (La Source). Take advantage of this atmosphere to visit the village, to stroll around under the shade of the plain trees, and discover the old hydraulic network, and the bridge of Love and its legend, while you are out walking with the family.

Guided tour

Explore this old sheet-making establishment on a historic amble of about 2 hours, and go back in time through its history to find out about the men, the industry, its architecture and how to control water ...

By appointment for groups all year round and at fixed dates for individuals. Contact N°: 04 67 96 06 00, mairievilleneuvette34 at wanadoo.fr

Attached files

Download booklet: Villeneuvette

Document PDF - 1.4 Mb - Updated on 23 June 2012

Pictures

The eighteenth century cascading fountain - JPEG - 125.9 kb
The eighteenth century cascading fountain

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Ancient chimney, witness of the ancient factory - JPEG - 113.9 kb
Ancient chimney, witness of the ancient factory

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“Work is honour” motto of Villeneuvette - JPEG - 142.4 kb
“Work is honour” motto of Villeneuvette

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The church of Villeneuvette - JPEG - 113.5 kb
The church of Villeneuvette

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Villeneuvette, entrance to the Royal Factory - JPEG - 187.4 kb
Villeneuvette, entrance to the Royal Factory

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The fountain on the village square - JPEG - 126.9 kb
The fountain on the village square

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The Fabrique's manor and clock tower - JPEG - 122.4 kb
The Fabrique’s manor and clock tower

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The Fabrique's manor - JPEG - 143.8 kb
The Fabrique’s manor

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Place Louis XIV - JPEG - 165 kb
Place Louis XIV

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Place Louis XIV - JPEG - 189.1 kb
Place Louis XIV

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The Pont de l'Amour (Bridge of Love) at Villeneuvette - JPEG - 184.4 kb
The Pont de l’Amour (Bridge of Love) at Villeneuvette

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Secondary entrance to Villeneuvette - JPEG - 128.7 kb
Secondary entrance to Villeneuvette

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The entrance porch - JPEG - 132.6 kb
The entrance porch

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Entrance door seen from the inside of the village - JPEG - 131.4 kb
Entrance door seen from the inside of the village

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Entrance door Honour to work - JPEG - 159.9 kb
Entrance door Honour to work

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The workers' quarters - JPEG - 133.1 kb
The workers’ quarters

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The Town Hall and Rue de la Calade, Villeneuvette - JPEG - 152 kb
The Town Hall and Rue de la Calade, Villeneuvette

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Entrance gate to the Manufacture Royal at Villeneuvette - JPEG - 119.4 kb
Entrance gate to the Manufacture Royal at Villeneuvette

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The old dovecote - JPEG - 132.1 kb
The old dovecote

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Outside view of the church of Villeneuvette - JPEG - 137.2 kb
Outside view of the church of Villeneuvette

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The village fountain, Place Louis XIV - JPEG - 115.2 kb
The village fountain, Place Louis XIV

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