In 2008, the Association of Industry and the Musée de l’Homme (AMHI), which was behind the conservation of the Vallois Rope Factory site, donated to the museum a large plaster model on a wooden frame depicting the Badin establishments at the end of the nineteenth century. The model is currently on show in the museum’s activity room and is used particularly for educational activities with scholars of industrial architecture and local industrial heritage.
In early 2008, the Badin-Sartel establishments located in the Austreberthe valley in the town of Barentin closed their doors after over a century and a half of activity. At the time, the AMHI was warned that industrial archives, along with a model of the site and a watercolour, were set to be destroyed.
Through its president, Alain Alexandre, the Association then set about saving these items of local industrial heritage and organised for the model and watercolour to be removed. As for the archives, they were transferred to the Departmental Archives of Seine-Maritime.
In a rather poor condition, the model had long been abandoned and needed to be restored before being exhibited to the public. This restoration was entrusted to the studio of Serge Giordani in Rouen and was funded by the AMHI. The restorer filled in the holes without the plaster support, glued together the wooden architectural elements, and touched it up with paint to restore the item’s original splendour.
At the end of 2008, the AMHI officially donated the model to the Vallois Rope Factory Industrial Museum in order to showcase it to the public. Today, this model provides exceptional and rare evidence of the local industrial heritage.
Once it had been restored and installed in the museum, all the moving elements on the set needed to be put back. Old postcards, photographs, period plans and the memories of former workers were hugely helpful for the reconstruction of the model in its entirety in order to ensure that it is as accurate as possible.
Auguste Badin made his debut in the Duthuit linen spinning mill in 1841 as a simple piecer, and became its director in 1847. In 1861, he bought the modest linen mill and increased its capacity by constructing new buildings and purchasing 5,000 additional spindles.
In 1863, Auguste Badin expanded the spinning mill once again by buying three neighbouring mills. Taking advantage of the fact that the mill was spared by the cotton crisis of the 1860s, in 1871 he invested his profits in building a large modern cotton mill dominated by a chimney almost 100 metres tall.
In 1897, when the linen and cotton spinning mill was at its peak and employed over 2,000 workers, Auguste Badin decided to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of his management by organising large festivities. It was to mark this occasion that the model was ordered.
Auguste Badin’s success should be seen as more than just an industrial success story. A “self-made man” from Normandy, he developed a paternalistic policy by surrounding his staff with an impressive collection of social institutions: a school from 1864, a nursery room to welcome young children whilst their parents worked, a mutual aid society in 1873, an orphanage in 1884, pension and social security funds, recreational societies such as music in 1873, the Orphéon in 1892, and gymnastics. At the very end of the nineteenth century, Badin had lodgings with individual gardens and very modest rents built close to the factory worker housing.
The model would have been created to represent the Badin Establishments at the 1900 Universal Exhibition in Paris. However, numerous sources show that it was actually created in 1897 to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Badin Establishments. The model, which at the time was referred to as the “comprehensive three-dimensional map”, was exhibited in the Great Circle reserved for the directors. It was created by Georges Baudu with the cooperation of the young people from the drawing classes. This same Georges Baudu, who was the president of the circle and the organiser of the fiftieth anniversary celebrations, inspired the map of the establishment.
The model’s presence at the 1900 Universal Exhibition could not be confirmed by archival documents. On the other hand, an article in the Rouen journal from 15 August 1900 tells us that Auguste Badin offered all of his staff, comprising 2,000 employees, trains and tickets to the Universal Exhibition.
The model is 3.40 metres long and 1.90 metres wide. It consists of a painted moulded-plaster table on a wooden frame. Originally, wrought iron supports held up protective glass. On the table, moving wooden elements represent the site’s various buildings. The hills are undulating, with trees representing the vegetation.
The model immortalises the industrial site at its height. In this very rare representation of an industrial site you can see the entire social organisation that was implemented by Auguste Badin.
First of all, you can see a group of industrial buildings that are typical of nineteenth-century architecture, with saw-tooth roofs. To the north is the cotton factory, and to the south is the linen, hemp and jute fabrics factory.
Surrounding these industrial buildings are other wooden items representing the infrastructure built for the employees’ usage. To the west, you can see several rows of houses. The worker housing built in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century are made out of brick, offering employees accommodation of significant comfort at that time. Different types of housing were provided to employees: roadside foreman housing for the rent of 225 francs per year, and cheap housing estate houses for workers, with a kitchen, a bedroom, a cellar and a small garden for 78 francs per year. All housing had free access to water and each house had access to gas for lighting and cooking.