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The town hall of Bully-les-Mines
The town hall of Bully-les-Mines
Coat of arms of Bully-les-Mines
Coat of arms
Location of Bully-les-Mines
Bully-les-Mines is located in France
Bully-les-Mines is located in Hauts-de-France
Coordinates: 50°26′33″N 2°43′31″E / 50.4425°N 2.7253°E / 50.4425; 2.7253Coordinates: 50°26′33″N 2°43′31″E / 50.4425°N 2.7253°E / 50.4425; 2.7253
IntercommunalityCA Lens-Liévin
 • Mayor (2001–2008) François Lemaire
7.66 km2 (2.96 sq mi)
 • Density1,600/km2 (4,200/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code
62186 /62160
Elevation38–92 m (125–302 ft)
(avg. 19 m or 62 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

Bully-les-Mines is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais département in northern France. It forms part of the Lens-Liévin urban area, which encompasses 36 French communes and 250,000 inhabitants. For many years it was a major coal mining center.


The name of Bully-les-Mines has frequently had various forms over the centuries : from Bulgi (in 1135), to Bugi (1152), Builli (1157), Bullia (1198), Bully (1270), Boulli (1303), Buylly (1410), Builly-lez-Aix (1486), Builly-lez-Grenay (1511), Builly-en-Gohelle (1569), Bully-en-Gohelle (1709), Bully-Grenay (1750), Bully-en-Gohelle (1782), and finally Bully-les-Mines in 1925.

According to many sources, the name has Gaulish origins. Ricouart proposes that "Bullire" derives from the French "bouillonner," a reference to the source of the river Surgeon in a neighboring commune. The current use of "les mines" indicates the importance of mining to the commune and the region. The train station has maintained the older name of Bully-Grenay, leading to occasional confusion among travellers.

Although the region has been inhabited from prehistory onward, no evidence of prehistoric settlements has yet been found at Bully. The oldest relic so far discovered in the commune is a Celtic bracelet; Bully once belonged to the "Pagus Silvinus" region of the Atrébates. Gallo-Roman discoveries have been numerous within the commune.

During the sixth century, Bully came under the spiritual leadership of the bishop of Cambrai-Arras.

As an integral part of Artois, Bully fell under the domination of the Counts of Flanders from 862 to 1191 before passing with the rest of the region to French control. Governed directly by the French Crown from 1191 to 1237, the town and region remained part of France until 1384, when they submitted to the rule of Burgundy. A brief return to French control between 1477 and 1492 ended in an absorption into Spanish territory, which lasted until the region returned definitively to France with the 1659 Treaty of the Pyrenees.

Misfortunes of Bully[edit]

Bully's close proximity to three military strongholds - Arras, Béthune, and Lens - often situated it in the path of war. In 1213 the village was raided; in 1303 it was destroyed completely, even its trees cut down. In 1348 a third of the population fell to the Black Death, which returned four times in the next century, alternating with famines and wars.

In 1537 Bully was sacked by the troops of Louis XII, and similar misfortunes continued until the French took Lens in 1556-1557. By this time Bully was so destitute that the victorious French proved unable to levy a tax on its inhabitants. In 1648, the village billeted troops involved in the Battle of Lens.

From 1709 to 1712, Bully was buffeted by the advances and retreats of armies fighting in the War of the Spanish Succession, a situation aggravated by an epidemic that killed 24 villagers. In 1796, a fire destroyed half the village, an event commemorated by the present-day "Chemin brûlé."

Coal mining[edit]

Bully-les-Mines c. 1900

In 1852 the first site explored by the Compagnie des mines de Béthune was near the village of Bully. The land was poorly wooded, so the company had to bring timber and workers from Cambrai. On 17 February 1852 the drill hole reached coal at 146 metres (479 ft). Sinking of Mine 1 at Bully began on 26 March 1852, and the mine came into operation in 1853.[2] In 1853 7,000 tons of coal were extracted. This rose to 21,000 tons the next year. Excavation of Mine 2, with a diameter of 4 metres (13 ft), was started on 20 November 1855 at Bully-les-Mines, and reached coal at 135.5 metres (445 ft). The shaft passed through an underground aquifer, for which a pumping machine was needed. Extraction started in February 1859 in a very rugged deposit.[3]

In December 1859 a decree allowed the company to build a railway from Bully to Violaines. Decrees of 29 August 1863 and 8 March 1865 authorized the Mines de Béthune to extend their railway network to Béthune and Lille. A limited company named the Compagnie du Chemin de fer de Lille à Béthune et à Bully-Grenay was formed on 11 May 1865 to operate the railway.[2]

In 1865 a more modern engine was installed in Mine 1 with two horizontal cylinders. In 1868 the Davaine ventilator in Mine 2 was no longer adequate and had to be replaced. By 1880 Mine 2 had produced 720,000 tons in total and was 450 metres (1,480 ft) deep.[3] In November 1869 eighteen workers were asphyxiated by fumes from a fire. Mine 1 was completely renovated in 1876, with a new 450 horsepower (340 kW) engine installed. By 1880 Mine 1 had produced a total of 1,280,000 tons of coal, and had reached a depth of 443 metres (1,453 ft). Shaft 1bis was added in 1889 and Shaft 1ter in 1911.[3]

The Étoile Sportive de Bully was founded in 1920 by the Company with a sports complex considered the most modern in France. There were five football pitches, one with stands for several hundred spectators, dressing rooms with showers, individual lockers for players. Members could also practice gymnastics, boxing and athletics.[4] Mine 1 was closed in 1961, backfilled in 1971 and the headframes destroyed in 1973. Mine 2 was closed in 1968, backfilled in 1970 and the headframe destroyed in 1974.[3]


Historical population
1793 410—    
1800 380−7.3%
1806 431+13.4%
1821 447+3.7%
1831 495+10.7%
1836 469−5.3%
1841 428−8.7%
1846 430+0.5%
1851 453+5.3%
1856 896+97.8%
1861 1,448+61.6%
1866 1,727+19.3%
1872 2,040+18.1%
1876 2,529+24.0%
1881 2,797+10.6%
1886 3,072+9.8%
1891 3,827+24.6%
1896 3,947+3.1%
1901 4,722+19.6%
1906 5,851+23.9%
1911 6,671+14.0%
1921 7,551+13.2%
1926 9,280+22.9%
1931 9,597+3.4%
1936 9,259−3.5%
1946 10,500+13.4%
1954 13,138+25.1%
1962 14,183+8.0%
1968 14,052−0.9%
1975 12,236−12.9%
1982 12,533+2.4%
1990 12,577+0.4%
1999 12,039−4.3%
2006 11,985−0.4%
2009 12,237+2.1%

Michel Vancaille, former vice-president of the Conseil Général of the Pas-de-Calais, served as mayor of Bully-les-Mines from 1989 to 2002, when he was replaced by fellow Socialist François Lemaire.


The bell tower of the Church of Saint-Maclou is inscribed in the French registry of historic sites and monuments.

Information provided by : Mérimée, base de données du Ministère de la culture


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Populations légales 2016". INSEE. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  2. ^ a b Bouguereau, Leignel & Piernas 2008, p. 4.
  3. ^ a b c d Compagnie de Béthune – Association MINING.
  4. ^ L'Étoile sportive de Bully-les-Mines.


External links (in French)[edit]