The transformation of stone

The various limestones in the valley have been exploited in the form of rubble, ashlar or lime for construction purposes since antiquity. The quarryman mostly extracted them from underground quarries; the stonemason shaped them and the mason used them in the construction of buildings. Often, the same craftsman practised these different trades.

Building materials evolved in the 19th century and new products appeared, such as hollow stones or old cinder blocks manufactured at the Longua factory in Saint Médard de Mussidan.

The traditional activity of transforming limestone rubble into lime in furnaces took on an industrial character in 1852 with the construction of several coal furnaces during the work on the Bordeaux-Périgueux railway line and the improvement of the roads in the department. Numerous very deep quarries were then exploited by various companies throughout the 20th century in Saint Astier: the Union des Chaux et Ciments de Saint Astier, Prothiaux et Cie, the Auguste Blanc company, the Société Dordognaise, SAFA, CIMCHAUX, which are now grouped together in Les Chaux de Saint Astier. Lime and cement from Saint Astier were thus used in the construction of numerous works in the South-West.

Illustrations :

– Postcard of quarrymen with their carriages in Ribérac at the beginning of the 20th century. (Collection Brives)

– Postcard with two stonecutters at work rue de Lyon in Mussidan around 1910. (©Musée André Voulgre) 2014.9.307

– Letterhead from the Fernand Devise de Longua hollow stone factory in Saint Médard de Mussidan in the 1920s. At the beginning of the 20th century, the factory produced sheets, shoe felt, blankets and also hollow stones. (Escarment Collection)

– Photograph of limestone quarrymen in front of the entrance to a quarry in Saint Astier (Private collection in Hervé Mercier, Saint-Astier, 1900-1950, volume 2, La vie Astérienne, Imprimerie IOTA, 2015).

– Postcard of the Massart rock factory of the Union des chaux et ciments in Saint-Astier in the 1920s (Archives Départementales de la Dordogne, 2 Fi 2323).

– Postcard of the quarries and lime kilns in Les Justices with the embidding workshop in Terrasson-Lavilledieu in the 1930s (Archives Départementales de la Dordogne, 2 Fi 2080).

– Postcard of the lime kilns of Mensignac in the 1910s (Iconothèque de la SHAP24)