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Prosopographic studies to understand the industrial history of a territory : the case of Mathieu Franck, civil engineer, public contractor and master quarryman in the Ourthe-Amblève region during the XIXth century (Liège)

  • Baudry, Antoine
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2024
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In the 19th century, the Ourthe-Amblève region, located south of Liège, gradually became a leading quarry center for the Province of Liège. Sandstones and limestones extracted there are widely used in construction, architecture and public works. Despite its importance reflected in its national and international reputation, the history of this quarry centre remains to be written. The task is not easy, as the archives of companies active in the region during the 19th century are not preserved. One of the keys to understanding the metamorphosis of this traditionally agricultural region towards these industrial extractive activities lies in the prosopographic studies of the main entrepreneurs and master quarrymen in the sector. Indeed, by “tracking” these individuals in this way (family contexts, inheritances, studies and professional trainings, land rentals and purchases, infrastructures constructions, business foundations and bankruptcies, successions, etc.), we can then identify their professional strategies and their weight in the construction sector, but also and above all, we can understand more precisely the occupation and development of this territory. This communication focuses on the civil engineer Mathieu Franck (1806-1888). Active for almost half a century, he is one of the most important public contractors of his time in the Liège region. He is also a very ambitious master quarryman : we now know of around ten quarries in the Ourthe-Amblève region, but also hydraulic cement and architectural terracotta factories along the Meuse, as well as a commercial store in the centre of Liège. This communication, which synthesizes data recently published or in the process of being published, constitutes a first extensive study on a Liège public contractor in the 19th century

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