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