History of leather and wool

The fate of Castres was linked to the work of leather and then textiles from the Middle Ages, which allowed the town to prosper. Wheras Mazamet has, for more than a century, been linked to the processing of wool. During this auspicious period (1850-1950), the town was enormously enriched, a “fabric” of international links, and developed a quality textile industry throughout the valley until the early 1980s. Come and relive the “thread” of the history of our cities.

Mazamet cuirs coloris

Textile Castres

Textiles in Castres date from the Middle Ages. Indeed, the houses on the Agout river were the workshops (or even the dwellings) of the weavers & tanners who worked the skins and the leather. These pastel-coloured houses are always visible and offer a beautiful showcase of Castres.

As with Mazamet, the industrial boom of the late 19th and early 20th propels Castres into a new textile dimension. Since the 1980s, the Castraise textile industry (as in Mazamet) has lost its flamboyance, even if some of the factories still remain.

Mazamet délainage peleur sabreur
Mazamet délainage hôtel grand balcon

Once upon a time the ‘délainage’

It all started when around 1850, in Mazamet, the industrialist Pierre-Elie Houlès made an import of Argentine sheep skins. He then implemented a technique of separating wool from the skin of sheep. Délainage was born. This started a great international industrial epic. Mazamet and its valley became the spearhead of the loathing. In addition, but to a lesser degree, the tanning industry (leatherwork), which is partly linked to the production of blankets, also boomed during this period.

Mazamet affiche centenaire délainage

Mazamet, “former world capital of délainage”

Mazametain manufacturers worked closely with their counterparts around the world: in South America (Argentina, Uruguay, etc.), Oceania (Australia & New Zealand), South Africa, etc. to obtain different types of wool, of good quality. During a century, many factories (some still visible today), will make the wealth of the city. Mazamet will even have a Banque de France, In addition to a multitude of beautiful character residences with a style sometimes inspired by the countries with whom it traded.

Rediscovering the "thread" of the history of the Mazamétain basin

Two historic walking routes allow you to walk through the history of Mazamet , and also along the industrial Arnette river…allowing you to fully understand this era which completely changed the landscape & the atmosphere and the Mazamet valley: "Mazamet, the treads of wool” and “Mazamet, over the water ”*, with explanatory panels throughout the two walks.

* Maps & translations available at the Tourist Office

cuir Mazamet

Le Musée du Textile

A seulement 20 minutes de Mazamet, dans une ancienne manufacture textile du XIXe siècle, le Musée départemental du Textile témoigne de la richesse d’un savoir-faire et d’un patrimoine industriel du Tarn. Les collections du musée présentent les techniques de la laine cardée, depuis la transformation de la matière première jusqu’au produit fini. 

Des expositions temporaires et des ateliers créatifs complètent le parcours muséographique et renseignent le visiteur sur les arts et les techniques textiles du monde entier.

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