"And yet, as the extract of the
Register of Grievances describes it with relish:
"… Trails are
still deplorable! … and losses which the borough
sustain due to the bad condition of the trails are more important than what
is imagined. Grains of all species and edibles, building and fire
woods, raw materials necessary to the fabrics manufacture, to arts
and trades, and other imported products, are more expensive when
transport is more expensive.
Trails are impassable during long and
hard winters. The subsoil waters which spout out at mid-hillside
form ices which spread all over their surface. We saw that during the
winter of 1786, after five or six days of frost, a cart without any
load, harnessed to four good horses which could not go uphill the
way of Vimoutiers to Orbec, had to retrogress after three hours of
efforts to cover a distance of perhaps ten "toises" (twenty meters).
The difficulties with export are particularly prejudicial to fabrics,
because these difficulties repel the foreigners who would come and
make the purchase in the very place of manufacture, which is
favorable to the seller. He proposes the sale with confidence, and
always concludes it profitably. ...
... It is considerably
different when, thirty or forty "lieues" from home and laden with
goods that he must sell, he depends upon the buyer and is obliged to
sell at a loss. When the fabric is sold on the place of its
manufacture, the purchaser who came to buy it does not return
without having done it, so if he has paid it a high price, this
increment value is reported to the consumer.
When, on the contrary,
the fabric is sold on a distant spot, the salesman who did not make
in vain the expenses of the trip, does not return without having
sold it and if he does it at a loss, he reports the depreciation on
the weaver, the spinner.
These comments are
not metaphysics, and prove how much it would be desirable for the
whole canton, that the accesses of Vimoutiers be passable, how much
it would be profitable for all the fabric manufactures which are the
resource and the life of the inhabitants.
If these ways were repaired and maintained in good condition,
Vimoutiers would not be the only place to benefit : the parishes of
its district would also find an advantage by transporting their
cider, brandies, butter and cheeses, their only export trade, etc
Harvest of the flax
These large tanks in Vimoutiers
were used to bleach the fabrics
Drying and bleaching on meadows
La Gosselinaie, maison Laniel
takes place the foundation of the Laniel Fontaine House, laundry in
La Gosselinaie, close to Vimoutiers which now counts
In 1806 and 1819, the reputation of the "Fabrics of Vimoutiers" is
confirmed by their success at the Exhibition of the Products of
French Industry in Paris.
In 1820, the village takes the name of
"town" and for the occasion, a few streets are paved, but
it is with the arrival of Stanislas Gigon
Labertrie, mayor from 1830, that finally, suitable roads and bridges
are built. Vimoutiers then counts 4200 inhabitants of
which more than ten launderers. The annual average production is of
1500 pieces in this first half of the 19th century and, within a
radius of five "lieues", this manufacture makes work 5000
weaving looms and
about 20.000 workers. Textile reigns all over the area.
In the same economic field, from the
end of the 18th century, the mechanization of the Textile Industry*
is finalized in England whereas France opposes a great resistance to
the industrial evolution, and the Franco-English conflict reaches its paroxysm.
England created the first a system of industrial patents and thus
prohibits the export of its technologies up to 1825.
"In 1844, the three
brothers Alexandre, Alphonse and Eugene Laniel,
feeling the upcoming crisis and
presurmising the ineluctable future of the mechanical weaving, send
one of them to England, in order to study the question. The messenger returns
enthused by what he saw. He persuades his brothers to buy a factory
close to the railroad. They find in Beuvilliers, near Lisieux, what
they need and there, settle the first
mechanical weaving of the West area"JB
This weaving which rises fast,
supplies the laundry of La Gosselinaie, artisanal workshop of which
they take the succession and which they transform into a factory of
bleaching in 1849. The factory of Beuvillers starts with 99 weaving
looms and the laundry of La Gosselinaie
extends quicky from 5 to 40 hectares.
has still a large industrial importance but
according to a speech of Doctor Delaporte in 1853 :
"The main commercial branch of the
town and the rural population of the "canton of Vimoutiers" belongs
to the manufacture of canvas fabrics known as cretonnes. But
even if our production has become very important regarding the
quantity of products, due to the use of the flying shuttles and the
continuous rolling, of which Sieur Trosley Mathieu, one of our
fellow citizens, is the inventor, we have to admit that
the linen industry has not progressed in weaving ..."
In 1860, England benefits the Free
Trade Treaty to flood the French market with their production, this
competition added to Belgian imports, the French industry must
face the sudden shock of the foreign competition in the difficult
context of the scarcity of flax and food shortage of
cotton. For a time, productions decrease by almost half.
At the World Fair of 1867, Eugène
Laniel is decorated with the Cross of the Legion of Honor for his
The same 1867 year, nearly 5000
weavers are listed in the area and C.
Gauthier, in his book relating the various aspects of the
geography of the department of Orne, presents Vimoutiers as one of
the two most important manufacturing centers in the department,
writes : "It is there that are manufactured the beautiful
fabrics known as cretonnes, of the name of Paul Creton born in
Vimoutiers and who was the inventor".
there are no more looms and Vimoutiers is no longer a true
industrial centre, but the famous name of "Fabric of Vimoutiers" is
reserved for the Laniel fabrics which obtained the
monopoly by several judgments, preserving it thus from the public
The factory of Beuvillers is in full
rise as well as the laundry of La
Gosselinaie which maintains the
prosperity to Vimoutiers : "initially because after
having adopted the mechanical weaving loom, the Laniel factory could
modify it to preserve the smoothness of the grain obtained from the
manual weaving loom, and furthermore because they went on practising
the bleaching on our meadows."JC/MC
The Laniel factory
will resist the two WW
and will count up to 300 workmen and 250 weaving looms at the
beginning of the XXth century.
However in 1953, it will close its doors
whereas the Laniel family is at a political apogee, one of them,
Joseph Laniel born in Vimoutiers, is actually President of the
Council of Ministers.
The closing of this factory marks the end of the textil industry in
The regulation of 1738 having been
removed, nowadays, the word of "cretonne" is misused for fabrics of
flax and even very often of cotton. However, it still emanates from
it a concept of solidity mingled to refinement.
Joseph Laniel, politician
Manufacturing the Canvas of
Laniel factory in Beuvillers