The footwear industry

The shoe industry was established in the Isle valley in 1893 when a factory opened in Neuvic sur l’Isle in place of the megisserie on the islet of Planèze. This factory, run by Léopold Marbot, quickly became one of the largest in France.

More than ten factories were opened at the beginning of the 20th century between Montpon and Périgueux in this « shoe valley », including the Georges and Bertrand factories in Saint Astier in 1913 and 1929, Ardillier-Arma in 1920 and the welt factories in Mussidan, Aster in Saint Germain du Salembre and Laporte at the Neuvic sur l’Isle railway station.

Bought by Bata in 1939, the Marbot S.A. factory continued to grow until 1971 with 1900 workers and producing more than 5 million pairs of shoes per year.

With a shortage of labour after the war, the shoe industry attracted the peasants of the valley, creating an original way of life between the factory and the farm.

Faced with the massive relocation of European industry, all these factories closed in the 1980s except Marbot-Bata, which sacked its last workers in 2009, thus bringing to a close a century of footwear industry in the Isle valley.

Illustrations :

– Engraving of the buildings of the Beauregard shoe factories in Neuvic sur l’Isle at the end of the 19th century. (Collection Brives)

– Postcard of the interior of the main workshop of the Marbot and Beauregard factories at the beginning of the 20th century in Neuvic sur l’Isle (Collection Brives).

– Aerial photographs of the Marbot & Cie factories at their original locations in Planèze and Théorat in Neuvic sur l’Isle in the 1970s. (©Musée André Voulgre)

– Scan of a machine tool to mount the United Shoe Machinery Company of France from the complete shoe repair manual. USMC of France supplied 80% of the machine tools for the shoe industry until the 1960s. (©Musée André Voulgre)


– Engraving of the 32 different types of Moenus machines, manufactured in Paris, necessary for industrial production in advertising for shoe professionals in 1907 (©Musée André Voulgre)

– Postcard of the Georges shoe factory established in the Saint Astier mill in 1913 (Private collection in Hervé Mercier, Saint-Astier, 1900-1950, volume 2, La vie Astérienne, Imprimerie IOTA, 2015)

– Postcard of the Martin punch factory in Mussidan in the 1950s. The welt is a piece of leather used for shoe decoration and reinforcement. (©Musée André Voulgre)

– Advertisement for the shoe shop Ardillier commercial showcase of the Arma de Mussidan factory in the newspaper L’Avenir de la Dordogne of 1927. (Archives Départementales de la Dordogne, MI-0144-01)

– Photograph of the interior and the workers of the Arma factory in Mussidan in the 1970s. (Collection Chica ©Musée André Voulgre)

– Postcard of the Ardillier shoe shop in Périgueux produced in the Mussidan factory in the 1950s (SHAP 24 iconotheque)