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Blog du Prix International de l'Innovation textile et de la Fondation Théophile Legrand - Fondation de France
Blog du Prix International de l'Innovation textile et de la Fondation Théophile Legrand - Fondation de France
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13 mars 2013

Théophile Legrand: "Father of the People"

Milestones in the Théophile Legrand Saga

- March 8, 1799: Birth of Louis Théophile Legrand in Fourmies. He is the descendant of a local lace and cotton manufacturing company that has been in business since the eighteenth century.

- 1806, 1807 and 1808: Théophile Legrand suffers the death of the mother, then younger brother and finally his younger sister

 - 1810: Théophile Legrand’s father, Louis-Joseph Legrand, constructs a special-spinning cotton mill.

 - November 11, 1819: Théophile Legrand marries Helen Josephine Labilherie in Puy en Velay, with whom he had six children. For 5 years, he serves as the head of his stepfather’s business, who died a year earlier.

 - April 1825: Théophile Legrand creates the first wool mill in downtown Fourmies, a city that the time had only 2000 inhabitants.

 - October 1825: Théophile Legrand furnished the factory with "fire pumps" (the first steam engines).

 - From 1830 to 1860: He improves the degreasing wool system making it less painful for workers. He opens degreasing units in the communes of Liessies (59) and Anor (59) where the water was more abundant. Legrand begins to transform wool with the creation of a spinning and weaving structures in Wignehies (59)

 - From 1838 to 1848: Serves as District Counselor of Avesnes-sur-Helpe.

 - 1840: The Théophile Legrand castle is constructed in the neighborhood of Marlière in Fourmies.

 - From 1843 to 1877: Serves as Counselor of Fourmies. Although easily winning his run for election, he never takes up the post of Mayor. His cousins Pierre Joseph and César Auguste Legrand serve as Mayor.

 - 1848: He is appointed to serve as Commander of the National Guard.

 - From 1848 to 1852: He serves as General Counsel of North Canton Trélon, he builds roads that finally connect Fourmies to the nearby municipalities.

 - 1855: He is awarded the First Class medal and receives worldwide recognition at the Universal Exhibition in Paris for its fine worsted wool.

 - 1856: The Malakoff Factory is built. This mill was considered the most important mill in Fourmies until the late 1960s and accounted for close to 700 employees.

 - February 17, 1857: A major fire burns the first spinning.

 - 1858: The creation of Mutual Relief is formed and takes effect in 1865 with the support of his friend and spinner Edouard Flament, Mayor of Fourmies.

- 1858/1859: Théophile Legrand equips his Malakoff Factory with semi-automatic winder and a traditional winder. He adds a weaving mechanism that increases production by improving quality. He expands his weaving production to the Cambrésis region.

- July 1860: Serves as an expert consultant for the commission on Agriculture, Trade and Industry as part of the renegotiation of the treaty of commerce with England.

 - 1863: Now employs 1,700 workers. He turns his weaving factories of Fourmies and Wignehies over to his sons. He buys a small hand weaving machine in Glageon (59) and turns it into a great mill, adding mechanical weaving.

 - February 23, 1864: There is a steam engine explosion in the Malakoff plant in Fourmies with 2 found dead and 4 wounded.

 - 1865: Théophile Legrand’s youngest son, Paul, dies. 

 - July 1867: Emperor Napoleon III presents Théophile Legrand with the insignia of Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur. This award recognizes both Legrand contributions to the industry, as well as his generous efforts that greatly help to the city transformation.

 - 1869: The first railway connection reaches Fourmies (Line Calais-Lille / Strasbourg). With Legrand’s influence and pressure, Fourmies is now connected to the rest of the major business hubs in France.

 - 1874: Creation of the Trade Commission for the woolen industry of the region Fourmies.

 - May 31, 1877: Théophile Legrand dies. He bequeathed to the poor of the city a perpetual endowment. The newspaper Le Journal de Fourmies names him "Father of the People."

 History is Made After Research Conducted by Biographer Jean-Louis Chappat on the Life of Théophile Legrand

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