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Aiseau-Presles (Municipality, Province of Hainaut, Belgium)

Last modified: 2019-06-26 by ivan sache
Keywords: aiseau-presles |
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Flag of Aiseau-Presles - Images by Arnaud Leroy, 14 May 2005
Left, flag in use
Right, flag proposal, not in use

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Presentation of Aiseau-Presles and its villages

The municipality of Aiseau-Presles (10,696 inhabitants on 1 January 2007, 2,219 ha; municipal website), located a few kilometers east of Charleroi, is the easternmost municipality in Hainaut, close to the Province of Namur. The municipality of Aiseau-Presles was estzablished in 1976 as the merger of the former municipalities of Aiseau, Presles, Pont-de-Loup, and Roselies. Aiseau is an old industrial town, with forges, collieries and glassworks; collieries extended to Pont-du-Loup and Roselies, whereas Presles remained mostly an agricultural village.

Aiseau developed from the hamlet of l'Hayette, built along a single road, probably around the estate of Aizium, mentioned in 952. Progressively, new farms were founded and the village spread to the feudal castle, the priory of Oignies and river Sambre.
The St. Nicolas' priory of Oignies was founded in 1192 by four brother canons, whose mother set up a Beguine convent. The monastery existed until the 19th century; its monks served six churches and set up a rich library, which was unfortunately broken up in 1815. The monks were expelled during the French Revolution. In 1798, Philippe de Neverlée acquired the priory and transformed it into a wealthy farm. The Société des Glaceries purchased the farm in 1837 and transformed it into a factory producing mirrors, later purchased by the Saint-Roch company, from Auvelais (Sambreville) and closed in 1931. Remains of a chimney and of an oven are still visible.
Extraction of coal started in Aiseau before the 15th century. In 1806, the Baron of Lierneux and his two associates were allowed to dig coal in the municipalities of Aiseau, Farciennes, Pont-de-Loup, and Presles. The 540-ha concession was called Pont-de-Loup Nord. In 1856, the company was renamed to Société Charbonnière d'Aiseau-Presles and placed under the direction of François H&ecaute;nin. The new director developed the production by opening new shafts (Tergnée in Farciennes, Panama in Roselies), modernizing the extraction process with a steam machine, and selling coal in different grades. In 1890, the company was renamed to S.A. du Charbonnage d'Aiseau-Presles; it was purchased in 1897 by the Fabrique d'Agglomérés de Houilles de Châtelineau. Hénin was succeeded by his son Jules and later his grand-son Carlo. In 1929, the concession spread over 925 ha; 1,140 workers produced yearly 265,000 tons of coal. The company, still directed by the Hénin family, ceased its activity on 31 May 1977, when the Tergnée shaft was closed. At that time, there were only four shafts still active in the basins of Charleroi and Lower-Sambre.

Presles was owned in the 12th century by the Rumigny family, from Florennes. Later owners were the lords of Seraing, the Enghien family and the Lierneux family. In the beginning of the 19th century, Marie-Charlotte of Lierneux married Émile of Oultremont, first Count of Presles and Ambassador in Italy. Their son Charles built in Presles a beautiful castle surrounded by a landscaped garden. The castle is still inhabited by the Oultremont family, whose head is Count Eugène of Oultremont. The garden is opened to the public once a year for daffodil picking.
The Golias farm, built in the 15th century, belonged to the Oultremont family for a long time. During the Second World War, the farm was managed by Waleffe Hubert, a chief of the local anti-German resistance, who hid there several people looked for by the Germans. The barn was burnt down in 1967-1968 and never revamped; farming stopped in 1969. The local beast of Presles is the Lum'rodje, a quadruped of uncertain nature powered by four human legs and guided by a man with a club and followers.

Pont-de-Loup is located in a curve of the Sambre, close to Farciennes. The village (Funderloo) was part of a big domain granted by Louis the Pious to Eckhard in 840. It was later renamed to Ponderlues, Ponderlos and Ponderlous.
The ancient church of Pont-de-Loup was built in the 11th-12th centuries. The tower is the only remaining part of that church; it stands now in the middle of the ancient cemetery, transformed into a necropolis for war veterans.

Roselies belonged to the County of Namur. In the middle of the 14th century, Count Guillaume le Riche gave Roselies, which had then 12 houses, to the lord of Seraing. From 1410 to 1625, Roselies was ruled by the Haverich family, who sold it to Herman of Lierneux, lord of Presles.
In 1878, the population of Roselies was bigger than the population of Presles, and Roselies became an independent municipality. The colliery favoured the developement of Roselies. Since the coal-mine was isolated and served by very bad paths, Hôtel du Panama was built in the dependencies of the colliery in order to house 72 miners. The hotel was very modern: it had electric and steaming heating and warm water baths and laundry. It was built by workers of Farciennes who had contributed to the opening of the Panama Canal. When they arrived on the building site for the first time, they saw groups of wooden huts similar to the American huts and said "It's like Panama".
On 21 August 1914, a violent fighting opposed the French and German troops in Roselies, and spread to Oignies, Aiseau, Tamine, Falizolle, and Moignelée. 466 French (421 unidentified) and 179 Germans (37 unidentified) were buried in the cemetery of Roselies.

Ivan Sache, 24 April 2005

Flag of Aiseau-Presles

The flag of Aiseau-Presles, as confirmed by the municipal administration, is blue with a semy of white fleurs-de-lis and the name of the municipality in black letters.

According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones [w2v03], the Heraldry and Vexillology Council of the French Community proposed a banner of the municipal arms, blue with a semy of white fleurs-de-lis (without the name of the municipality).
The municipal arms are those of Catherine of Haneffe, aka Catherine of Orchamps. According to Armorial des communes de la province de Hainaut, these arms were originally granted to the municipality of Aiseau by Royal Decree on 25 May 1928, as "Azure a semy of leurs-de-lis argent".

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 4 June 2007

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