© Xavier Spertini
Discoveries Découverte Morceau d'Histoire
The TASE factory of Vaulx-en-Velin
© Collection association MémoireS
People may no longer remember it, but the Carré de Soie district was named after this iconic building from Lyon’s industrial past.
Of the original huge horseshoe-shaped complex that formed the TASE factory, only the main facade and east wing remain. The west wing was demolished in 2006 during redevelopment of the district, but a collective of associations fought hard in the early 2000s to save this industrial heritage, securing the conservation of part of the former factory, which produced viscose (also known as artificial silk). Founded in 1924 by the wealthy Gillet family, which manufactured chemicals and textiles, the ‘Société de soie artificielle de sud-est’ (SASE) was renamed ‘Textile artificiel du sud-est’ (TASE) in 1935, following a “revolt” by the ‘Canuts’ (Lyon’s former silk-workers), who took legal action against improper use of the term ‘silk’. At certain points, the factory employed up to 3000 workers! Most of them were hired directly overseas, in Poland, Hungary, Spain or Italy, as the local population was little inclined to work at the factory due to the arduous conditions and the noxious fumes it produced.
Employees lived with their families in two complexes: the ‘Petite Cité’ formed of 97 houses, for foremen and managers; the ‘Grande Cité’, formed of 20 four-floor buildings, for workers. They had everything they needed for daily life there, with many services (a school, infirmary, church, grocery and stadium) located throughout the neighbourhood. Still today, the café-restaurant La Boule en Soie serves lunch and dinner! Viscose production was temporarily halted on the site in 1975 and the TASE factory was permanently closed down in 1980. The main facade was finally listed as a ‘Monument Historique’ (historical monument) in 2011.