The Vallois Rope FactoryThe Vallois Rope Factory
©The Vallois Rope Factory|PO Deschamps

Materials and colors at Corderie Vallois

Relive the atmosphere of a 19th century textile factory! At the Vallois Rope Factory Museum, just outside Rouen, you will plunge into the era when the linen, cotton and wool industry was the leading industrial activity in Normandy.

Your five senses on the alert

La Corderie Vallois is a museum in motion that offers fully immersive tours. The machinery of the old hydraulic spinning mill is still in its original place and working, powered by the paddle wheel that continues to turn to the rhythm of the Cailly River. The foreman’s office, the braiding workshop, bobbins and threads of all colors, … the eyes and ears are alert. Even the smell of the grease that ensures the proper functioning of authentic mechanisms is there! Watch the paddle wheel spinning below and feel how history vibrates again in this spinning mill.

The history of the rope factory

You are, here, in the factory of the Vallois family which, between 1880 and 1978, manufactured cotton ropes and braids. The museum tour traces the history of the factory and shares with visitors the know-how of the rope factory workers from the time when Rouen was a pioneer in the textile industry. The owner Jules Vallois transformed the spinning mill into a mechanical rope factory, installing imposing English machines on the first floor and small French units on the second floor. Wired ropes and braided cords are the specialties of the house, which employs essentially women.

Rouen, one of the most important cotton centers in France

The Cailly valley sees the birth and development, starting in 1759, of one of the most important French concentrations of textile industries working with cotton, including the Corderie Vallois. Rouen was at the forefront of industrial innovation and experienced a prodigious economic boom. Between 1815 and 1820, there were five new hydraulic spinning mills built on the banks of the Cailly.In 1850, 51 spinning mills, 4 weaving companies, 22 indianneries and 17 dyeing factories dotted a territory 44 km long. Rouen and Elbeuf were then positioned at the top of French cotton territories for spinning and weaving.

The machines in action

Wiring looms, winders, dunces, braiders, … imposing machines are put into action in the workshops of the museum. One can even, under the guidance of the guide, activate some of them. For nearly 100 years, the rope mill produced rope from spools of cotton yarn made in area spinning mills. Cotton harvested in the southern United States, India, Egypt, China or Pakistan, arrives bythe Seine and the port of Rouen and is then transported by rail to the textile mills in the Cailly Valley. Three types of ropes are made here: milled, braided and cabled. The latter are used, for example, as wicks for lighters and candles or as fishing nets.

Yarn, thread and beautiful fabrics

This is an opportunity to discovera craft know-how and a local culture of beauty. Do you know the “siamoises du Pays de Caux”? They are woven fabrics with a cotton weave reinforced with linen or silk. And the famous “indienneries”? These printed fabrics have made the success of regional production. The Vallois corderie gives beautiful examples of these prints on fabrics with collections as colorfulas ornamented.

Follow the river

The Cailly which flows below the Vallois Corderie offers a walk through the valley that was called in the 19th century the “little Manchester”. Spinning mills, weaving mills, dyeing factories and Indianneries follow one another. Let yourself tell these stories of water and mills by a guide lecturer. In Rouen, you must follow the course of the Robec in the heart of the historic center. The daily life of the dyers and millers emerges inthe Martainville district. There they used water to transform the material. The mill route is another route that reveals the rich industrial heritage of the Norman city.

Here are the exhibitions and festivities

Take a break in the museum’s garden. The Cailly River, with its small waterfall, offers a calm and soothing setting. Benches and deckchairs are available for visitors. In the summer, the Walking by the Water event invites you to come for moments of reading, concerts and relaxation on the site. workshops around yarn are regularly organized (Sculpte ton style, De fil en aiguille, …) and temporary exhibitions, bringing international contemporary artists around the theme of textiles are highlights not to be missed.