Usine Cellatex, Givet, France

Cellatex was a factory that specialised in the production of artificial silk. The company headquarters were based in the administration block of the premises.

Usine Cellatex, France
 

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History of Cellatex

Cellatex was a factory in Givet, France that specialised in the production of artificial silk. The company headquarters were based in the administration block of the premises in Givet.

For several centuries people had tried to emulate the silkworm to produce artificial silk. The silkworm feeds on the mulberry leaf, a cellulose plant, which is then transformed into a viscous product. The product is secreted by the silkworm, which hardens in contact with the air to form a silk thread.

A French Count named Hilaire de Chardonnet, who was an assistant to Louis Pasteur, discovered a technique to dissolve cellulose, based on the research of various other chemists. He developed the technique into an industrial process that could be used to produce artificial silk.

The Cellatex factory was built in 1902 to produce silk. The company thrived, opening up additional factories between the wars, and in the post-war boom. However by 1960s the introduction of other materials such as nylon caused a decline in the popularity of artificial silk, now known as Rayon. By 1991 the company could now longer sustain a viable volume of production had to close their other branch in Grenoble.

On 5th July 2000 it was announced that the Givet factory had gone into liquidation. The workers, who had not seen or heard from their employer for almost a year, took occupation of the factory in order to generate media interest. The workers were unhappy that a declaration of bankruptcy would mean they lost their severance pay and special compensation by the state, which they would be entitled to if the factory just closed down.

The stores in the factory contained 46 tonnes of carbon disulphide, 56,000 liters of sulfuric acid and 90 tonnes of sodium hydroxide. The workers threatened use the carbon disulphide to blow up the plant, and to empty the acid into the River Meuse, which would cause widespread pollution and decimate wildlife. They followed through with their threat and poured a limited amount of acid into a tributary of the Meuse – enough to make a point but not enough for it to reach the main river. The authorities gave in and the workers got their severance pay.

Our Visit
Just beginning the second day of the a tour with Kriegaffe9, Darbians, Proj3ct M4yh3m, we were heading to our first location for the day after stopping off at a hotel in Givet overnight. We spotted the large and impressive looking factory frontage as we drove passed. It looked good, but we had a date with a dead person at an old house so had to crack on. The dead person still had family and it felt a little too wrong to be there, so we left and headed back to the factory. There wasn’t a real lot left, but the staircase and entrance hall were nice.

 

Usine Cellatex - Main Staircase

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Usine Cellatex – Main Staircase

Usine Cellatex - Main Entrance

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Usine Cellatex – Main Entrance

Usine Cellatex - Looking down the staircase

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Usine Cellatex – Looking down the staircase

Usine Cellatex - On the stairs

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Usine Cellatex – On the stairs

Usine Cellatex - Empty room

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Usine Cellatex – Empty room

Usine Cellatex - Another empty room

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Usine Cellatex – Another empty room

Usine Cellatex - Back at the top of the stairs

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Usine Cellatex – Back at the top of the stairs

Usine Cellatex - Main entrance external

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Usine Cellatex – Main entrance external

Usine Cellatex - Staircase

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Usine Cellatex – Staircase

Usine Cellatex - Looking down the staircase

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Usine Cellatex – Looking down the staircase

Usine Cellatex - Cupboards and corridor

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Usine Cellatex – Cupboards and corridor

Usine Cellatex - Upstairs rooms

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Usine Cellatex – Upstairs rooms

Usine Cellatex - View down the corridor

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Usine Cellatex – View down the corridor

Usine Cellatex - Wider view at top of stairs

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Usine Cellatex – Wider view at top of stairs

Usine Cellatex - Panoramic view of building frontage

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Usine Cellatex – Panoramic view of building frontage

Further Reading If you liked this report you may also want to look at Proj3ct M4yh3m's Cellatex Report or Darbians Cellatex Report on their websites

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