Saint-Chamond, Loire

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Saint-Chamond
Saint Chamond Paysage.jpg
Coat of arms of Saint-Chamond
Coat of arms
Saint-Chamond is located in France
Saint-Chamond
Saint-Chamond
Coordinates: 45°28′39″N 4°30′55″E / 45.4775°N 4.5153°E / 45.4775; 4.5153Coordinates: 45°28′39″N 4°30′55″E / 45.4775°N 4.5153°E / 45.4775; 4.5153
Country France
Region Rhône-Alpes
Department Loire
Arrondissement Saint-Étienne
Canton Saint-Chamond-Nord and Saint-Chamond-Sud
Intercommunality Saint-Étienne Métropole
Government
 • Mayor (2001–2008) Gérard Ducarre
Area
 • Land1 54.88 km2 (21.19 sq mi)
Population (2005)
 • Population2 35,500
 • Population2 density 650/km2 (1,700/sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 42207 / 42400
Elevation 326–1,051 m (1,070–3,448 ft)
(avg. 375 m or 1,230 ft)

1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Saint-Chamond (French pronunciation: ​[sɛ̃ʃaˈmɔ̃]) is a commune in the Loire department in the Rhône-Alpes region in central France. The town dates back to the Roman period. It lies in an iron and coal region, and was formerly industrialized. Many of the mines and factories have closed, and as of 2010 the population had declined to about 35,000.

Location and demographics[edit]

Saint-Chamond is located in the Gier valley between the Monts du Lyonnais to the north and Mont Pilat to the south. The peak of Perdrix, at 1,434 metres (4,705 ft) is the highest in the Pilat massif. The "Saut du Gier" waterfall is in the Pilat Regional Natural Park. The peak of Œillon provides a magnificent view of the Rhone valley, and sometimes of the Mont-Blanc massif. The Gier bisects the city, which has its source in Mont Pilat, and which flows east down the Gier valley for 44 kilometres (27 mi) before entering the Rhone at Givors. However, the river is covered within the city.

Saint-Chamond is named after Saint Annemund, a seventh-century saint. Saint-Chamond is the largest town in the Vallée du Gier conurbation and the third-largest population center in the Loire department, after Saint-Étienne and Roanne. In 1800 the town had about 5,000 inhabitants. With development of the coal and iron industries the population rose steadily, peaking at over 40,000 in 1982. Since then, many factories have closed. By 2010 the town had about 35,000 inhabitants.

The people are called "Couramiauds", a name that comes from a tradition that during the festival of the feu de la Saint-Jean the people of Saint-Chamond hung a string to the tail of a cat and children ran after it. This was called the "cours-à miaou" (miaou race), and thus "Couramiauds".[1] It was traditional to burn a cat at the carnival on a square. The cat is now cardboard.

Saint-Étienne lies 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) to the west and Lyon about 45 kilometres (28 mi) to the east. Surrounding towns are Saint-Étienne, Lorette, La Grand-Croix, L'Horme, Cellieu and Saint-Jean-Bonnefonds. Saint-Chamond is divided into several districts:

The town lies on the A47 highway between Lyon and Saint-Étienne. A second highway, the A45, is planned through the hamlet of Chavanne. The nearest airport is Saint-Étienne - Bouthéon. There is also an airfield, L'Horme. One railway station serves the town. Various bus lines also provide local transport.

History[edit]

Saint-Chamond was originally a fort guarding one of five aqueducts that supplied the Roman city of Lugdunum (Lyon). The Gier aqueduct carried the waters of the river Gier captured upstream of Saint-Chamond.[2] During the later Middle Ages, Saint-Chamond was a very important manor in the region, the capital of Jarez. Melchior Mitte de Chevrières, lord of Saint-Chamond, laid out the town. A number of older buildings survive including House of Canons of the 15th and 16th sixteenth century (listed building), Hôtel-Dieu (historical monument) St. Peter's church from the 17th century with its 19th century organs by Claude-Ignace Callinet (historical monument), and the 17th century convent of the Minimes, now the town hall of Saint-Chamond.

The castle of Saint-Chamond was destroyed by the people in 1792 during the French Revolution. Only the stables are still visible on the hill of Saint-Ennemond. During the revolution names associated with the church was changed, and the town was briefly called Vallée-Rousseau after the philosopher. In 1793 the city of Lyon revolted against the Convention and was joined by Saint-Chamond. Defeat of the Lyonnaise army led to the evacuation of Saint-Chamond. The Convention sent Claude Javogues, who imposed fines and summary executions. In 1796 the town sent a mobile column against refractory priests and deserters.

The community became a center of coal and iron production. In 1837 H. Pétin and J. M. Gaudet, mechanics and forgers, set up shops at Saint-Chamond and Rive-de-Gier.[3] In 1841 Pétin et Gaudet introduced one of the first steam hammers at their works.[4] Later they introduced innovations such as a mobile crane for moving large pieces around the works, and a hydraulic press.[5] Starting in 1771 the Neyrand brothers became owners of several coal mines and ironworks in the valley of the Gier river.[6] The company of Neyrand frères et Thiollière was formed in January 1845 to exploit an enlarged and modernized factory at Lorette.[7]

These companies became one on 14 November 1854 when they merged and combined to form the Compagnie des Hauts-fourneaux, forges et aciéries de la Marine et des chemins de fer.[3] The company, which engaged in extracting, processing and selling iron and coal was initially based in Rive-de-Gier. On 9 November 1871 it moved its headquarters to Saint-Chamond and became a limited company. The factories were mainly concentrated in the Loire basin, in Saint-Chamond and Assailly.[3] In 1880 Saint-Chamond was the world capital of the lace industry. This industry was founded by Charles François Richard, assisted by his son Ennemond Richard. Eighteen years later, the Manufactures Réunies company was formed by merging ten of the largest manufacturers of laces.

During World War I (1914-1918) the steel company built several different types of weapons, notably the Saint Chamond-Mondragón 75 mm gun which had been designed mostly by colonel Rimailho, the Saint-Chamond tank and the Chauchat machine rifle. They also produced naval guns, such as the quadruple gun turret design for the unfinished Normandie-class battleships.[8] In the 1950s the city saw the closure of its last mine at Clos Marquet. The steelworks became part of the Creusot-Loire group, which had 28 factories and 39,000 employees including 3,100 in Saint-Chamond.

The present city of Saint-Chamond is the result of the merger in 1964 of the communes of Saint-Martin-en-Coailleux, Saint-Julien-en-Jarez, Izieux and Saint-Chamond. The town became the third town in the Loire, with almost 40,000 inhabitants.

Notable people[edit]

Points of interest[edit]

References[edit]

Citations

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