Once upon a time in St Leger sur Dheune

I thought I’d share some extracts & information which I have gleaned from this booklet which has been translated and editd by Jill Edmonds, whom I mentioned in my last blog.

I found the booklet most interesting – there are some nice little personal stories, translated but not tidied up so sometimes the english is a little stilted.

Canal du Charollais:

1783 – Louis XV1 gave permission for this canal, linking the rivers Loire and Saone

1783-1806 canal excavated by hand (shovels, pickaxes, wheelbarrows) under the direction of Emile Gautley, an engineer from Chalon

1790 – renamed Canal du Centre after the Revolution

1793 – the whole canal was filled with water – 114kms

1847 – busy port at St Leger sur Dheune dealing with local wood, coal, plaster & tiles – transporting local goods by boat

1898 – port traffic was at its height, also now dealing in wine and guns and ammunition

At this time boats were 27m long but 100 years later Freycinet effected standardisation and all barges were 38.5m

Initially boats were hauled along by men (or women) on the towpath. By 1930 this practice was banned and donkeys, then horses were used – until about 1970 when tractors were used and ultimately the boats were motorised.

A common sight along the canals was launderesses washing their linen in the canal. Kneeling at a wooden tub and rubbing laundry on a 4 legged wash board, thumped it dry with a wooden paddle and gossipped! Some of the bargemen amused themselves by going past at speed so as to swamp the laundresses! Can you believe that?

1936 – a huge storm resuted in extensive flooding in St Leger

  • Stories told of wheelbarrows full of hailstones being brought out of cellars 8 days later
  • There was no mains water – wells were polluted so people had to go to springs aabve the town for water

1936 – mains water arrived

1860 – railway came to St leger – this made it possible for men to commute daily to the Schneider armament factories at Le Creusot


Second world war~:

Stories re the German invasion & occupation

One inhabitant told how when he was a little boy he saw his dad being marched out of the village with other men. He ran over to his father and hugged him – the German guard told the father to go home with his son, he understood, he had a son too. The father hid in the area for nearly 2 years!

June 1940 – German occupation of the north with the free Vichy regime. The locals endured severe rationing and bombardments by allied aircraft

Liberation on 6th June 1944 didn’t reach St Leger sur Dheune until 6th Sept 1944


Evidence of the local tile and brick making industries can still be seen on some of the local buildings which are decorated with fancy brickwork, tiles and roofs

Author: mistyjf

I have been boating in Europe since 2009 when I shipped Misty Morning to France. Time & life move on! Adrian, my new partner, & I bought Piedaleau in 2015 to continue and expand our European boating adventures.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: