Tuesday 26 November 2013

Have You Seen "Les Usines d'Ugine?" [2]

Trammann, a blog comment writer, included some pictures of the sad end of Sheffield's Castle Markets.

See "Developing Markets" (read again)
Happy memories : sad memories!
There is an obvious railway station in Ugine [Episode 1, read again] ...
... photographed by chum David with a line of trucks in the platform and ...
... an SNCF "Fret" (freight) diesel loco, class 475. To grasp why the railway is still open from Albertville to Ugine, we need to meet this man:- 
Paul Girod (1878-1951) : Ingénieur diplômé de l'École de Chimie du Technicum de Winterthour il est engagé par la Société chimique des usines du Rhône puis par les *Faïenceries de Grigny." À l'automne 1898, âgé de seulement vingt ans, il est l'auteur de l'invention du procédé de fabrication électro-métallurgique du vanadium. En 1904 il développe ce qui deviendra Ugitech. Il y perfectionne un four à sole conductrice en 1904 et réalise en 1906 et 1907 la première fabrication des alliages complexes; silico-aluminium, silico-calcium, silicomanganèse, et de l'aluminium. Le 19 janvier 1909, il fonde la "Compagnie des forges et aciéries électriques Paul Girod" et le 1er mai 1909 met en marche l'aciérie d'Ugine : avec ses quatre fours électriques, elle possède la plus belle technique au monde. 

In summary (and in English) he was a superbly clever metallurgist who invented an electric furnace process which led to his opening, in 1909, of a metal works in Ugine.

He was a man of great social responsibility, providing medical facilities and even accommodation for his workers. He called this block (centre and right) his ...
... phalanstère; the idea named after the Greek word "Phalanx" for its distinctive shape.

A phalanstère (or Phalanstery) was a type of building designed for a utopian community and developed in the early 19th century by Charles Fourier. Fourier named these self-contained communities, ideally consisting of 500-2000 people working together for mutual benefit, after the phalanx, the basic military unit in Ancient Greece. Though Fourier published several journals in Paris, among them La Phalanstère, he created no phalanstères in Europe due to a lack of financial support.

The cottage-style main office block (left) still stands today on the road named after the company's founder.
Oddly, the map still shows a railway station at Ugine (blue logo top left). It closed in 1938!
Or did it?

The works covers a huge area today and manufactures stainless metal bars and rods.
Ugitech (the modern name for Girod's company) uses scrap metal as a raw material and much of this arrives, loaded in bogie open wagons, by train.
The site has / had a substantial internal rail network which fbb has highlighted on the aerial view.
 yellow  indicates SNCF metals,  blue  shows the main sections in use in the works and dotted  green  is one of the rivers whose waters supplied the power for the early days of the factory. Ugitech owns its own diesel loco (locos?) as exemplified by this picture:-
But the snap creates an as-yet unresolved mystery. What is that overhead electric stuff doing? Lorry-driving David has been dispatched to Ugine as soon as poss. to find out.

Tomorrow, we teleport south to Albertville to take a look at the railway between there and Ugine.

 Next rail blog : Wednesday 27th November 

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