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.
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.
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, “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.
Musée du Textile
20 minutes from Mazamet, in an old textil factory of the 19th century, the museum is the witness of the Tarn industry with its wealth and its know-how. The collection shows different technics, transformation from the raw material to the finished product.
Temporary exhibitions and creative ateliers explain the visitor the different technics known in the world.