The State decided to register the Batignolles factory in Nantes (4 industrial naves) as historical monuments. This recognition of an industrial heritage is an opportunity to look back on its history.

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The Batignolles factory owes its name to one of its parent companies, the SCB, Société de Construction des Batignolles, established at the time in the district of the same name in Paris. Too cramped in its Parisian premises, wishing to develop locomotive construction, and originally from Nantes, the Gouin family, holder of the SCB, joined forces with the Compagnie des forges de Châtillon-Commentry et de Neuves-Maisons to entrust to the contractors François Mercier and Claude Limousin the construction of a factory, between Nantes and Saint Joseph de Porterie, at the Saint Georges wood. The Batignolles factory in Nantes was listed as a historic monument on August 3, 2022. It is the first factory in Nantes and the first industrial complex in the Pays de la Loire, still partially in operation, to benefit from protection under the title of historical monuments. Previously, in the early 2000s, three naves had been awarded the label Patrimoine du XXe siècle (now Architecture contemporaine remar-quable).

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A building with a strong industrial, urban and working identity

This factory was commissioned by the Gouin family and built in reinforced concrete from 1918 to 1920 by the famous contractors Mercier & Limousin, presumably under the control of Eugène Freyssinet, at the time Technical Director of Mercier & Limousin, and now a world-famous engineer. Organized in a rational way, linked almost exclusively to the railway industry for 30 years, it diversified its activities after the Second World War, while maintaining a loyalty of use in the field of industry, in particular towards:

  • tank turrets
  • torpedo tubes,
  • forklift trucks,
  • forestry tractors,
  • centrifugal pumps,
  • printing presses,
  • heat exchangers for the oil and gas industries.

In 1985, when the Creusot Loire group became the owner of the complex, the site was cut into three parts, Worhington retaining the centrifugal pumps business, Rockwell printing presses, and Batignolles Technologies Thermique heat exchanges.

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Today, Batignolles Technologies Thermique, which became Kelvion Thermal Solution in 1995, continues this industrial tradition, still manufactures heat exchangers, but every day accompanies the ecological transition, becoming a major player in hydrogen distribution.

Batignolles have a strong industrial, urban and working-class identity. They have undeniable historical and architectural interest as well as aesthetic qualities now recognized by the State. This regalian recognition was done in consultation with Nantes Métropole, the associations that requested this protection (the Collective of associations of industrial and port heritage, and Batignolles-Retrouvailles), as well as owners – site operators.

Were protected: ten reinforced concrete naves, the monument to the dead dedicated to the Batignollais workers who died during the Second World War (the factory, bombed in 1943 and 1944, was restored and restored by the architect Charles Friésé) the crane has Cremona of the largest nave and porticoes. The State also took into account the buildings covered in sheds and the documentation and information centre of the factory (former infirmary), designed by the architect Lucien Bechmann.

Inscription for Historic Monuments

Protection for historic monuments is a public utility easement based on the heritage interest of a property, which is assessed by examining a range of historical, artistic, scientific and technical criteria. The notions of rarity, exemplarity, authenticity and integrity of goods are taken into account. In order to ensure its conservation, restoration and development, a building or movable object may be protected as a historical monument.

There are two levels of protection for historic monuments: inscription and classification. Registration is the first level of protection and the highest classification.

Traditional heritages (churches and castles for buildings, works of art and antique furniture for movable objects) continue to form the majority of protected properties each year. However, a significant increase in the categories of protected property has taken place since the 1970s: gardens, buildings and movable objects of the 19th and 20th centuries, industrial, scientific and technical heritage (factories, railway buildings and structures, ships, trains, aircraft or automobiles, scientific collections) now occupy a significant place among the classified and registered goods.