The Allumettes factory : a 20th century heritage site in grave danger

1. Hall J, 1928-1930
Allumettes factiry
Trélazé, Maine-et-Loire
Photo : All rights reserved

5/2/10 – Heritage – Trélazé, Manufacture des Allumettes – On the 1st of February, Hall J (ill. 1) of the Allumettes factory in Trélazé, the Maine-et-Loire region, near Angers was razed.
We learned the fact only the day before and proceeded to write this article without having time to contact those behind this destruction, the city of Trélazé, Angers Loire Métropole and the HLM company, Toit Angevin.

The Allumettes factory is an important example of industrial architecture of the first half of the 20th century, covering a total surface area of 6.7 hectares [about 16.5 acres]. The plans (ill. 2) date from 1920 and the construction lasted from 1921 until 1953. Activity stopped in 1982 and the site was acquired by the Toit Angevin in 2007. The first building, the heating unit, built in 1923 had already been razed along with two small buildings, used as models for erecting other factories elsewhere in France, and the three large chimneys.
Hall J is a very beautiful 1930’s building (constructed between 1928 and 1932 [1]). The quality of the architectural ensemble was in fact acknowledged by the Ministry of Culture which had named it “Industrial Heritage of the 20th century” !

2. Plan of the Allumettes factiry
Trélazé, Maine-et-Loire
Photo : All rights reserved

Such destruction serves no useful purpose as at the moment it is impossible to build anything in its place. The PLU, or local urbanization plan, was indeed cancelled and a public investigation carried out in September and October 2009 issued a negative opinion of the revision of the building code, notably due to the “heritage and architectural value” of the site. The land therefore remains listed as an artisan zone.

No one seems to be aware of the obvious importance of these buildings, except for the local associations devoted to defense of heritage, Sauvegarde de l’Anjou and Rêverie des Allumettes which have tried to stop this act of vandalism by stepping in front of the bulldozers. There is an online petition which may be signed here. Let us point out that another example of 1930’s industrial architecture is also seriously threatened, in Paris : the buildings of the Marine Nationale by the Perret brothers (see article in French).

Didier Rykner, vendredi 5 février 2010


[1] “La manufacture des allumettes de Trélazé 1918-1981” by Séverine Janvier, directed by J-B Minnerat and J-L Kerouanton, Tours, 1999.

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