The miners’ neighbourhoods

Housing for miners provided by the mines

When the mining company plans the urban development of entire neighbourhoods for its workers and changes the town landscapes forever.

Paternalism seen by Chagot

In order to house a growing working population, the Compagnie des Mines de Blanzy undertakes the construction of entire new districts. The very first achievement is "la cité des Alouettes” which features 50 homes. Between 1852 and 1877, 400 new dwellings are built in "la cité des Alouettes” and other new districts appear:  “la cité du Bois du Verne” and “la cité du Magny”.

These neighbourhoods are all built on the northwest shore of the canal, as close as possible to the mining pits where the miners work. Various types of houses exist; some with four or two adjoining houses ,each with their own garden. Most of the time, the district is complete with a chapel, a dispensary, a girls 'school and a boys' school. Religious institutions are often in charge of running these facilities, which reflects the social organization implemented by the Chagot family. Other working-class neighbourhoods were built at the beginning of the 20th century, such as the district of La Saule in 1917.

Designed for employees, the Bel Air district is located on the opposite side of the canal, near the town centre, purposely differentiating social classes within the company.

Similarly, housing for executives (engineers, managers, architects) stand out of the landscape and are recognisable by their bourgeois style (slate roof, park, etc.). These beautiful homes can be seen along the canal, close to the former offices and administration department of the mines, but also peppered in other remote areas.

In addition to these real estate programs, the company also offers ownership advantages to enable  workers or employees to build their own property and benefit from corporate support.

Built on the outskirts of town, the miners’ districts reflected a strong sense of community. Real little villages within the town, this sense of belonging was increased by the arrival of foreign labour force. The district of "la cité des Gautherets” for example (communes of Saint-Vallier and Sanvignes) is built in the 1920s as the mines welcomed a huge Polish workforce.

As you walk down the streets of Montceau and of surrounding towns, the former mining districts are easily recognisable by their typical architecture: back-to-back small houses identical to one another. A vivid reminder of the mining days of Montceau-les Mines!