Industrial exploitation of clays

The clays from the Isle valley had various qualities: pottery clay, refractory clay, tile or brick clay. They were all mined in the 19th and 20th centuries. The undergrowth of the valley still bears the scars of the clay in the form of hundreds of wells and clay quarries.

The white or kaolinic clays were exported to Bordeaux for the manufacture of earthenware from the Vieillard & Cie factory in the 1860s, to Limoges for porcelain cazettes, to Toulouse for the war industry in 1917 or to Brazil for the construction of Brasilia in the 1950s.

Illustrations :

– Postcard of the Société des agglomérés Brugère & Cie exploiting clay from the Beauronne valley for the manufacture of building materials at the beginning of the 20th century. (Private collection)

– Postcard of the Sainsot et Fils de Gabillou refractory earth factory in Sourzac before 1918. (©Musée André Voulgre)

– Sainsot et fils letterhead from 1917 (Collection Dessagne)

– Postcard of the Saint Aulaye refractory earth factory (Archives Départementales de la Dordogne, 2 Fi 1873 )

– Clay mining contract of 1862 between Jean Dessagne, a farmer from Beauronne, and Jules Vieillard & Cie de Bordeaux for the extraction of « good earth » for the manufacture of earthenware at a price of 2.40 francs per cubic metre. (Dessagne Collection)