Wattelez Abandoned Factory

Also referred to the Usine du Puy Moulinier/Moulin à Papier du Puy Moulinier, During 1797, A paper mill (Moulin à papier du Puy Moulinier) the Gouverneur Jean Begeras is noted as having 8 workers. 1836, Jean Victor Corral at Le Puy Moulinier, offered printing papers if they were not the finest they are however to seek for the moderation of their price which is proportionate to the use for which they are intended.

Images of the site before and after its demolition, Source Geoportail/Google Maps

On May 28, 1856, Alexandre Nenert, bought the Usine du Puy Moulinier, previously rented, which he will mainly take care of. He does a lot of landscaping, invests in new equipment. The case seems to work well and the factory will be bequeathed to Louis Nenert, On the death of his father Alexandre in 1891, he took over direction of the factory.

Louis actively operated the Puy Mouliner plant, which was supplied by the kaolin of the Clos-de-Barre and Bois-Vicomte quarries. He directed his activity towards the manufacture of pate destined for industrial porcelain, notably exporting to the Czech industries before the war of 1914. He then decided to sell the plant to retire at the Clos-de-Barre. He then took care of his estates of the Clos-de-Barre, the Meychenie, the Bois-Vicomte, Mezurat and Nieul. He died prematurely on January 14, 1932 at 66 years.

In 1921, Société Wattelez established its rubber regeneration plant. There was then a just a small kaolin mill, surrounded by 25 hectares of vacant land, which was for sale. The mill was equipped with a small turbine whose installed power was used to illuminate two rooms only. For a few years, the new plant used this electricity and it is then abandoned. In 1968, 200 people were employed here raising to more than 400 people. On the night of the 9th of May 1943, Georges Guingouin succeeded, at the peril of his life, in blowing up the rubber factory, which was very important for the German war economy. In fact there were only 2 rubber factories in France, this one, the other in Colombes, which the RAF blew up the month before, travelling from his base in the forest of Châteauneuf-la-Forêt, 30 km away, accompanied by René Duval, who had volunteered, he blew up two boilers with explosives, the shutdown of this plant for 5 months will cause the Germans, who took over the plant in 1942, to lose 1500 tons of rubber.

In 1974, It is noted by a historian, that it is the paper mill of Puy-Mouliner, which has stood here since before 1797, is currently now a rubber regeneration plant, formerly a domain of the Douhet family in the XVIth and XVIIth centuries. (Seigneur du Puy-Molinier, Jean de Douhet du Puy-Moliner, Chevalier de Saint-Louis, deceased in 1833, was the last of his branch).

In 1989, it is sold to EURECA. In 1991, The company EURECA files for bankruptcy and it is put in liquidation. Rubber stocks (mainly pneumatic) are present on grounds covering a total surface of approximately 20 ha. and there still remains a legal battle with the current owners over its clean up.

There have been three big fires (1990/2/3) at the factory during its abandonment. Another fire was reported again in April 2011, Since 2015, plans were put together to slowly remove over 60,000 tonnes of old tyre deposits (estimates say 90,000t when all other rubbish is included, to be removed, the town of Bellac is not pleased to receive this unwanted waste), in 2017, another fire on the site is reported, but the work has now began to happen, and soon this old factory site will become the next generation of modern social housing, and another page of local history.