“Lorient during the Industrial Revolution” by S.M. O’Connor

The city’s fortunes continued to rise under the so-called July Monarchy, when King Charles X of the House of Bourbon lost power in a revolution and his cousin Louis-Philip, Duke of Orleans, of the House of Orleans, a cadet branch of the House of Bourbon, proclaimed himself King of the French (rather than King of France and Navarre) with a reign that lasted from 1830 to 1848).[1]  In 1833, a bronze sculpture of Lorient sailor Hippolyte-Magloire Bisson by Jacques-Edouard Gatteaux on a plan by architect Pierre-Marie Lussault was unveiled between Saint-Louis Church and the course of the Bôve.  Bisson had died in 1827 when he scuttled the vessel he served aboard, The Panavoti, when it was attacked by pirates off the Greek island of Stampalia.  The sculpture stands atop a column with bas-reliefs.  Today, this sculpture stands near the Bisson School.

In 1839, barracks opened. In the second half of the 19th Century, under the Second Republic of France, the Second French Empire, and the Third Republic of France, Lorient continued to expand and enjoy the fruits of the Industrial Revolution. A gasworks (an industrial plant that produced flammable gas) was built to provide light and heat for the city in 1845.

Julien Auguste Pélage Brizeux (1803-1858) was a famous poet, born in Lorient, who wrote in both French and Breton and shortly after his death Emperor Napoleon III of the Second French Empire (1852-1870) authorized a public subscription to create a monument for him.  Finally, in 1888, a marble sculpture by Pierre Ogé was unveiled.  It was originally in Cherbourg Square (renamed Brizeux) in New City, but is now in Chevassu Park.

In 1861, the original drydock was enlarged and a second one was built. In 1865, an ironclad ship, the Couronne, was built using the same design Henri Dupuy de Lôme (1816-1885) had made for the Gloire class of steam-propelled warships after the Crimean War (1853-1856), which were broadside ironclad warships with wooden hulls, but the Couronne had an iron hull.  That same year, railroad service reached Lorient.  In 1872-73, the Arsenal de Lorient built the world’s first steel warship, the Redoutable, which was a central battery and barbette ship. She was a forerunner of the pre-dreadnaught battleships.  Launched in 1876, she was commissioned into the French Navy in 1878.

From 1870 to 1940, St.-Tudy, the largest community on the lightly-populated island of Groix, was one of the biggest tuna fishing ports in the Third Republic of France.[2]  Such was the reputation of sea captains from Groix that France’s first fishing school was founded on the island in 1895.[3]  Lorient gained a fish market in 1889 and steam-propelled fishing trawlers around 1900.


[1] Many European states had revolutions or upheavals in 1848, not just France.

[2] Philippe Barbour, Brittany. Updated by Robert Harneis.  London: Cadogan Guides (1998, 2000, 2005), p. 350

[3] Barbour, p. 350

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