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Creil (Municipality, Oise, France)

Last modified: 2015-04-25 by ivan sache
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Flag of Creil - Image by Ivan Sache, 19 May 2014

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Presentation of Creil

The municipality of Creil (33,741 inhabitants in 2011; 1,109 ha; municipal website) is located 45 km north of Paris.

Creil was mentioned for the first time, as Criolum, in a letter dated 636. The name of the town probably comes from the Celtic word crael (from cruth, "a cave", and kara / kala, "a stone"), referring to the tufa stone extracted locally or to early cave- dwellings.
Erected by the Celts on a height, Creil was conquered in the 1st century BC by the Romans, who set up there a military camp used as a base for further conquests.

Creil developed in the Middle Ages on the St. Maurice Island, located in the middle of river Oise. King of France Charles V (1364-1380) made of Creil a Royal town. The king acquired in 1375 the domain of Creil from Wenceslas, the son of Beatrix of Bourbon and of John of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia. He rebuilt the fortress, which was subsequently used to jail the mad king Charles VI (1380-1422).
During the Hundred Years' War, the fortress was fiercely disputed by the French and the English, who were eventually expelled in 1441 by Charles VII. Creil experienced again hard times during the Wars of Religion. The Protestants seized the town in 1567 and burned down the famous relics of St. Évremond; the tradition says that the canons could preserve only the saint's skull.

Creil morphed into an industrial town in the 19th century. The industrial development of the town was facilitated by river Oise and, mostly, by the first Paris-Lille railway line, inaugurated in 1846. The population of the town increased from 1,180 in 1806 to 8,293 in 1891.
The Creil earthenware factory was established in 1797 by Robert Bray O'Reilly. Not successful, the factory was acquired by a group of businessmen who appointed in 1803 an English potter, Jacques Bagnall (1762-1823), as manager of the factory. Bagnall re-organized the factory according to the capitalist paternalistic model developed by Josiah Wedgwood in England. The factory employed up to 800 workers in 1811; it was acquired in 1816 by Charles de Saint-Cricq Cazeaux (1774-1840), which merged it with the Montereau earthenware factory under a single brand, "Creil et Montereau". The two factories employed 1,400 workers, being therefore the second biggest earthenware producer in France after Sarreguemines. The implementation of the English methods, based on scientific research and industrialization, allowed the Creil factory to dramatically increase the quality and quantity of its production. The factory was awarded a 1st class medal in the Paris 1855 World Fair. The thematic series of 12 illustrated table plates produced by the Creil factory contributed to the emergence and spread of a specific iconography representing the cultural standards of the bourgeoisie of the time.
The Creil Construction Workshops were established in 1858 by Lebrun and Lévèque. They contributed to the buildings of several monuments, both in France (Mirabeau Bridge in Paris, Bordeaux railway station) and abroad (Cairo railway station, bridge on the Nile, railway bridges in Spain). The company was awarded a gold medal and a 1st prize in the 1878 and 1889 World Fairs.
The Creil Forges and Wireworks, established in 1873 by the engineer de Hennau, were the first company in France to use Thomas' "basic process" to produce steel. They produced a great diversity of products (steel threads, nails, rivet and dowels). The company was awarded a silver medal in the 1889 World Fair.
Théodore Rivierre set up in 1888 a nail factory near the railway station. He invented a device that allowed the industrial production of nails from a single metallic thread, without any loss; his patented methods allowed him to win several bids, such as the nails for the shoes equipping the French Army. His widow succeeded him in 1900, increasing the factory and entering the international market, up to Indochina and Argentina. Still using Rivierre's original methods, logo (a red lion standing on its hindlegs) and packaging, the factory is the last nail manufacturer in France. Recognized world-wide for its 2,800 kinds of nails, Rivierre was granted the title of "Living Heritage Company".

On 30 August 1914, General Gallieni (1849-1916), Military Governor of Paris, met in the Town Hall of Creil General Maunoury (1847-1923), Commander of the 6th Army, to draft the plan of battle that would led to the victory of the First Battle of the Marne (5-12 September 1914).

Ivan Sache, 19 May 2014

Flag of Creil

The flag of Creil (photo) is identical to the town's logo, black with a red horizontal stripe at the top, and the writing "LA VILLE / Creil / OISEPICARDIE", all in white except "OISE" and the dot on the "I" of "Creil" (red).

Ivan Sache, 19 May 2014