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Wattrelos (Municipality, Nord, France)

Last modified: 2021-02-18 by ivan sache
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Flag of Wattrelos - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 3 August 2020

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Presentation of Wattrelos

The municipality of Wattrelos (40,885 inhabitants in 2018; 1,562 ha) is located 15 km of Lille.

Wattrelos was first mentioned in a document written around 1030 stating that the town already existed in 846. At the time and for the next centuries, Wattrelos belonged to the St. Bavo abbey in Ghent; the "Messieurs de Saint-Bavon" were the nominal lords of Wattrelos.
St. Bavo (589-654/657), born Allowin, lived in debauchery until his wife's death. Aged 62, he offered all his money to the poor and took the coat at the St. Peter abbey in Ghent, where he spent the last years of his life in a tiny cell. Before his death, Bavo bequeathed all his possessions, Wattrelos included, to St. Amandus, Bishop of Maastricht and Apostle of Flanders.
Wattrelos was one of the most flourishing domains of the St. Bavo abbey; in 1231, the town had some 500 to 600 inhabitants. Forests were cleared to maximize arable lands. In 1830, 4/5 of the municipal territory was still covered by fields ans pastures.

Industrialization started later than in the neighboring towns of Roubaix and Tourcoing. The first textile manufacture, Leclercq-Dupire, was set up in 1865, employing 600 workers; in 1876; 3,200 textile workers worked at home or in small workshops, while another 2,000 were employed by manufactures. In search of manpower, the manufactures offered higher wages to home workers.
La Lainière de Roubaix set up in 1912 a factory mostly located on the territory of Wattrelos. The manufacture registered emblematic brands, such as the Pingouin wool (1925), the Stemm sockets (1948) and the Rodier clothing. In the 1950s, the factory employed 6,000 workers; it was visited in 1957 by Queen Elizabeth and in 1960 by Nikita Khrushchev. La Lainière was eventually closed in the early 2000s.

Ivan Sache, 3 August 2020

Flag of Wattrelos

The flag of Wattrelos (photo, photo) is blue with the municipal coat of arms, "Azure, a lion barry argent and gules armed langued and crowned or".
On the flag, the shield is displayed on a golden cartouche, is surrounded by two branches, and is surmounted by a mural crown.

The arms were assigned by Th. Leuridan (Armorial des communes du département du Nord, 1909) as the arms of the St. Bavo abbey in Ghent.

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 3 August 2020