A panoramic view of Saint-Chamond
|Canton||Saint-Chamond-Nord and Saint-Chamond-Sud|
|• Mayor (2001–2008)||Gérard Ducarre|
|Area1||54.88 km2 (21.19 sq mi)|
|• 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.
It lies in an iron and coal region, which were the basis of industrial growth during the 19th and 20th centuries. As many of the mines and factories closed in the late 20th century due to restructuring, there was a loss of jobs and population; by 2010 the population had declined to about 35,000 from a high of more than 40,000 in 1982.
Location and population
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 city developed on both sides of the Gier River, which source is on Mont Pilat. The river flows east down the Gier valley for 44 kilometres (27 mi) before entering the Rhone at Givors. The river was covered over within the city.
Saint-Chamond is named after Saint Annemund, a seventh-century saint. It 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 more than 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 during the summer festival of the feu de la Saint-Jean (fire of St. John). The people of Saint-Chamond tied 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". It was also traditional to burn a cat at the carnival on a square. In the 21st century, "the cat" is made of cardboard.
Geography and communities
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. One railway station serves the town. Various bus lines also provide local transport.
The nearest airport is Saint-Étienne - Bouthéon. There is also an airfield, L'Horme.
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. During the later Middle Ages, Saint-Chamond was a very important manor in the region and served as 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 centuries (listed building), Hôtel-Dieu (historical monument); St. Peter's church from the 17th century, with 19th-century organs by Claude-Ignace Callinet (historical monument); and the 17th-century convent of the Minimes, now the town hall of Saint-Chamond.
During the French Revolution, the castle of Saint-Chamond was destroyed by the peasants in 1792. Only the stables are still visible on the hill of Saint-Ennemond. During the revolution the name associated with the church was changed. The town was briefly called Vallée-Rousseau after the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
In 1793 the city of Lyon revolted against the Convention and was joined by Saint-Chamond. The governmental forces defeated the Lyonnaise army, leading to the evacuation of Saint-Chamond. The Convention sent Claude Javogues to the city, who imposed fines and summary executions to suppress unrest. In 1796 the town sent a mobile column against refractory priests and deserters.
Starting in 1771 the Neyrand brothers had become owners of several coal mines and ironworks in the valley of the Gier river. The community became a center of a region of coal and iron production in the 19th and 20th centuries, stimulating its industrialization and growth. In 1837 H. Pétin and J. M. Gaudet, mechanics and forgers, set up shops at Saint-Chamond and Rive-de-Gier. In 1841 Pétin et Gaudet introduced one of the first steam hammers at their works. Later they introduced innovations such as a mobile crane for moving large pieces around the works, and a hydraulic press.
The company of Neyrand frères et Thiollière was formed in January 1845 to exploit an enlarged and modernized factory at Lorette. These companies merged on 14 November 1854, forming the Compagnie des Hauts-fourneaux, forges et aciéries de la Marine et des chemins de fer. 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.
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 lace.
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.
Industrial restructuring affected the region in the postwar period, as costs rose for mining. In the 1950s the city's last mine at Clos Marquet was closed. The steelworks became part of the Creusot-Loire group, which had 28 factories and 39,000 employees in the region, 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 new town is the third-largest town in the Loire, with almost 40,000 inhabitants.
Saint-Chamond is twinned with:
- Alain Prost, a quadruple Formula One world champion, was raised in Lorette, a commune of the town.
- Ravachol, a 19th-century anarchist convicted and executed in Paris for murders of judicial officials in 1892, was born and grew up here, supporting his family from a young age after his father abandoned them.
Points of interest
- Plessy 1991, pp. 327-328.
- Tableau des vestiges visibles de l'Aqueduc du Gier.
- Chassagne 2007, p. 369.
- Compagnie des forges et aciéries ... Creusot-Loire, p. 2.
- Berend 2012, p. 201.
- Armengaud 1871, p. 97.
- Chassagne 2007, p. 370.
- Preston 2002, p. 68.
- Armengaud, Jacques-Eugène (1871). Publication industrielle des machines, outils et appareils les plus perfectionnés et les plus récents employés dans les différentes branches de l'industrie française et étrangère. Chez l'auteur. Retrieved 2013-08-18.
- Berend, Tibor Iván (2012-11-15). An Economic History of Nineteenth-Century Europe: Diversity and Industrialization. Cambridge University Press. p. 201. ISBN 978-1-107-03070-1. Retrieved 2013-08-18.
- Chassagne, Serge (2007). "Une Famille de Maitres de Forges Catholiques de la Region Lyonnaise". Histoire des familles, de la démographie et des comportements: en hommage à Jean-Pierre Bardet. Presses Paris Sorbonne. ISBN 978-2-84050-523-5. Retrieved 2013-08-18.
- "Compagnie des forges et aciéries de la Marine et d’Homécourt" (PDF). Société anonyme Creusot-Loire. 16 December 1971. Retrieved 2013-08-17.
- Plessy, Bernard (1991). La Vie quotidienne en Forez avant 1914. Hachette. ISBN 978-2010178511.
- Preston, Anthony (2002). The World's Worst Warships. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0851777546.
- "Tableau des vestiges visibles de l'Aqueduc du Gier". Groupe Archéologique Forez-Jarez. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
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