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Usines Métallurgiques de la Basse-Loire (Shipping company, France)

Last modified: 2010-12-03 by ivan sache
Keywords: usines metallurgiques de la basse-loire | letters: bl (red) |
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[House flag of UMBL]

House flag of UMBL - Image by Ivan Sache, 2 October 2010


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Presentation of UMBL

Usines Métallurgiques de la Basse-Loire (UMBL - Lower Loire Ironworks) was an industrial company based in Trignac, 6 km of the port of Saint-Nazaire.

In 1879, Société des Mines de Fer de l'Anjou (Anjou Iron Mines Company) mining company built the Forges de Saint-Nazaire (Saint-Nazaire Forges) factory in the hamlet of Trignac; production started in 1882 with more than 1,000 workers employed. The steel crisis and competition with the ironworks of north and east of France caused in 1889 the bankrupt of the company.
In 1890, powerful shareholders purchased the company and renamed it Société des Aciéries, Hauts-Fourneaux et Forges de Trignac (Trignac Steelworks, Blast Furnaces and Forges Company). Importing iron from Spain and coal from England, the company owned a wharf in the port of Saint-Nazaire, linked to the factory by a private railway. The factory operated three blast furnaces and 32 coke furnaces, producing steel sheets for the neighbouring Staint-Nazaire shipyards and rails for the Paris subway. The population of Trignac increased from 1,786 in 1886 to 2,347 in 1896, with the development of an integrated, "social capitalistic" system, the factory taking care of the workers "from the cradle to the tomb". Trignac was granted municipal status on 31 March 1914.

Following a crisis in shipbuilding, the factory was rented in 1905 to Usines Métallurgiques de la Basse-Loire (UMBL), that eventually purchased in 1910 the old company and modernized the factory. To decrease the costs, the company exploited mines in the region (coal in Faymoreau and iron in Segré). When the first World War broke out, UMBL was a very successful business. During the war, the factory, working only for the war industries and employing mostly women and children, could not maintain the production. After the War, UMBL went close to bankrupt.

In 1925, UMBL was purchased by FANE (Forges et Aciéries du Nord et de l'Est - North and East Forges and Steelworks), one of the biggest heavy industries of the time. Production resumed in a switchback manner; following another crisis that hit shipbuilding in 1930, the factory was closed in January 1931. Reopened in 1939 to prepare the war, the factory was taken over by the Germans in June 1940; the March 1943 air raid caused the eventual closure of UMBL. Located too far from coal and iron mines, the factory was never reopened; its demolition was completed in the early 1960s.

Source: Les Forges de Trignac, by Michel Mahé

Ivan Sache, 2 October 2010


House flag of UMBL

UMBL had its own fleet; the Yearbook of the Central Committee of France Shipowners (1922) shows the company's house flag as white with a blue ascending diagonal stripe and the red letters "B" and "L", for "Basse Loire", in the upper left and lower right corners, respectively.

Dominique Cureau, 2 October 2010