Last modified: 2007-12-22 by ivan sache
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Municipal flag of Jemeppe-sur-Sambre - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 3 May 2005
The municipality of Jemeppe-sur-Sambre (18,056 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 4,679 hectares) is located at mid-distance between Charleroi and Namur, in the industrial basin of the Sambre. The municipality of Jemeppe-sur-Sambre is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Jemeppe, Balêtre, Ham-sur-Sambre, Mornimont, Moustier, Onoz, Saint-Martin and Spy. The qualifier "sur-Sambre" was added to distinguish the municipality from the other Belgian Jemeppe, Jemeppe-sur-Meuse, incorporated into the muncipality of Seraing in 1976.
The main industrial sites in Jemeppe-sur-Sambre belong to the Solvay Group, which set up its first factory
there in 1898, and Glaverbel, which produces flat glass.
The Solvay Group was founded in 1863 to exploit the ammonia-soda process for producing sodium carbonate (known as the Solvay process), patented by Ernest Solvay on 15 April 1861. Since then, Solvay has grown to become a global group of pharmaceutical and chemical companies specializing in three sectors, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and plastics. The group is established in 50 countries, with 30,000 employees. In Belgium, Solvay employs more than 3,000, working on five sites, Ixelles (headquarters), Neder-over-Hembeek (Solvay Research & Technology), Jemeppe-sur-Sambre (chemicals and plastics), Lillo (chemicals and plastics) and Oudenaarde (plastics and transformed products).
Ernest Solvay (1838-1922) was the son of a quarry master from
Rebecq-Rognon. At the age of 23, he developed with his brother Alfred a new process for the industrial production of sodium carbonate. They
founded the company Solvay & Cie on December 24, 1863, flirting with
bankruptcy on several occasions during the nearly 10 years it took them
to perfect the process.
From 1870 to 1880, Solvay promoted the global expansion of the company. Factories were set up in Belgium, France, England, Germany, Russia and the United States. Ernest Solvay oversaw the organization and development of his industrial empire with remarkable insight. For example, he was one of the first to make industrial use of electrolysis.
Ernest Solvay was also a man of progressive social ideals, which he implemented within his factories. He established before legal obligations a social security system, pensions for the workers in 1878, an 8-hour workday in 1897, and paid vacations in 1913. After becoming wealthy, he looked to society at large, and founded several scientific, philanthropic, and charitable foundations, including the Institutes of Physiology (1895) and of Sociology (1901), as well as the prestigious School of Business (1903) which still bears his name.
His overriding passion for science was again expressed in 1911 when he organized a meeting in Brussels of most of the famous physicists and chemists of the time. Participants included Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Max Planck, Ernest Rutherford, Raymond Poincaré and Duke Louis de Broglie. This was the birth of the Solvay international physics council, which has met 20 times between 1911 and 1991, assembling some of the most brilliant scientists in the world. Ernest Solvay bought in 1893 the castle of La Hulpe and was confered the title of Count Solvay of La Hulpe by King Albert I.
The castle of Mielmont was built in the XIIth century on a spur dominating the valley of Sambre. It is protected by four towers, including a donjon with 2.1-m thick wall. Due to the building of the castle directly on the rock, some rooms do not have a single right angle. The castle was severely damaged during the French Revolution and revamped by the Beauffort family in 1870-1875. It is owned today by the de Cock family.The cave of Spy is one of the most important Paleolithic cave in Europe. It was excavated several times; excavations made in 1886 by the archeologist Marcel de Puydt, the geologist Max Lohest and the paleontologist Julien Fraipont are considered as a milestone in the history of sciences. Their findings were the definitive evidence of the existence of an archaic human being older than the modern man, that is the Neanderthal Man.
Ivan Sache, 3 May 2005
The municipal flag of Jemeppe-sur-Sambre is divided white-red by a wavy
diagonal with the municipal coat of arms in canton.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 26 October 1995 and confirmed by the Executive of the French Community on 29 May 1996, as Divisé selon la diagonale montante en S, blanc chargé de l'écu communal à la hampe, rouge au large.
The odd division of the flag recalls the curve of the Sambre and a letter "S", for Solvay. Mathematically, such an S-shaped curve aka the sigmoidal curve, represents the Verhulst function - the growth curve of a population with a limited carrying capacity, the upper asymptote.
The coat of arms of Jemeppe-sur-Sambre is "Gules a chevron argent three roses of the same placed two and one".
Servais shows the municipal coat of arms of Jemeppe, before the administrative reform, as "Gules billetty argent a lion or". These arms, granted by Royal Decree on 4 February 1930, belonged to Knight Antoine Mallet, who built the castle of Jemeppe in the XIIIth century.
Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 3 May 2005