Maria Elisabeth of Austria was the sister of Charles VI, by whom she was sent to be governor of the Netherlands in 1725. At this time, the governors’ summer residence in Mariemont was in a shocking state of disrepair. Maria Elisabeth ordered it to be restored and large-scale work began. She was particularly fond of staying there in summer and autumn, when she went hunting. She also regularly spent time at Escaille Château, the residence of the Lord of Fayt, where she enjoyed fishing. This explains the presence of a stone on the bank commemorating one of her visits in 1732
Paul de Carondelet
( 1551 – 1625 )
The Carondelet family was originally from northern France, but was elevated to the head of the seigneury of Haine-Saint-Pierre and La Hestre through marriage in 1588. Most of the members of the family pursued military careers, which sometimes turned out to be very prestigious indeed. François de Carondelet became famous by emigrating to America in 1780, where among other things, he was governor of New Orleans. He died in 1807 in Quito, Ecuador, where he was a major in the army. A town in the United States, on the outskirts of St. Louis (Missouri), is named after him. The last lord in the line built a château in La Hestre in 1785, not far from the grounds of Mariemont, but it was unfortunately demolished in 1963.
( MAMMOLA 1911 – FAYT-LEZ-MANAGE 1997 )
Carmelo Sita was born in Mammola in the Italian region of Calabria in 1911. He was from a family of farmers, and grew up in a relatively poor, rural environment. He worked with his parents and went on to form his own family, which was blessed with five children. In 1947 at the age of 36, like many of his compatriots, he responded to Belgium’s call to come and work in the collieries in the region around La Louvière. He travelled to Belgium alone, but his family gradually joined him in his house on rue de Bellecourt in Fayt-lez-Manage. At the age of 48, after working in the collieries for 12 years, his health no longer allowed him to undertake such strenuous work, and he had to find alternative work to enable him to provide for his family. Remembering the life of his youth, he bought a cow and a few ewes, and started to produce cheese in the kitchen of his family home. Carmelo knew what he was doing, and his cheese was encouragingly successful. He therefore bought a smallholding so that he could increase his production. Fresh Carmelo Sita ricotta became known throughout Belgium, and he was constantly obliged to buy in milk from elsewhere in order to meet demand. In 1976 he moved to the former brewery on rue de la Croyère, where he expanded his cheese production and started importing other cheeses from Italy. Carmelo really made the most of his commercial talent to develop his Sita cheese-making business, which has expanded thanks to the work of the second and now the third Sita generation. The Sita company now employs over 40 people and it is to Carmelo Sita, his expertise and his first cow that we owe its existence and current prosperity!
( HOUDENG-GOEGNIES 1837 – BRUXELLES 1912 )
Born to farming parents, the young Gustave Boël entered Houdeng-Goegnies industrial school and then Ernest Boucquéau’s ironworks, foundries and mills, founded in 1853. He became workshop leader and then director. He saved his boss from bankruptcy in 1865 by working with the factory’s accountant to raise the required funds. As a mark of his gratitude, Boucquéau, who died in 1880, made him his heir. As a boss, Gustave Boël modernised the equipment. The factory in which thousands of the region’s workers and employees would labour, became a major industrial centre. However, it was not called Gustave Boël Factories until 1928, long after the death of this great captain of industry. Boël was also mayor of La Louvière for a brief spell in 1883, and a liberal senator from 1883 to 1884 and from 1892 to 1912. The Boël family invested in the business through the generations, until the recession forced it to be sold to the Dutch Hoogovens in 1997 and then to the Italian-Swiss Dufercos just two years later. Gustave Boël is also famous for having been the first person in Belgium to allow workers and employees to hold company stakes.
( SAINT-VAAST 1848 – LA LOUVIERE 1921 )
The son of a blacksmith-farrier, Augustin Gilson started out as a merchant before founding “les Boulonneries de La Croyère” nuts and bolts workshop in Bois-d’Haine in 1883. In 1903, when the factory was enjoying great success, the installation of rolling mills added a new dimension, and the factory never ceased to develop. In 1908, for example, a horseshoe workshop was added. Finally in 1910, the concern became a limited company. Gilson was also interested in local politics around La Louvière. After being a liberal local councillor and then a magistrate, he became mayor of the town of Loups from 1891 to 1895. He was also one of the founders of a financial company that loaned money so that workers could buy houses. His familial successors kept the business going in Bois-d’Haine almost up until it closed in 1965, when it still employed almost 1,500 people.
François Isidore Dupont
( SENEFFE 1780 – FAYT 1838 )
François-Isidore Dupont was without doubt one of the great industrial pioneers of the central region. The son of a farmer and miller, he showed a talent for mechanics very early on. He moved to Fayt in around 1800 and founded a nail workshop along the roadside, which he transformed twenty years later into a great steelworks equipped with all the latest technology. He also owned factories in Arquennes and Châtelineau, and along with British-born industrialist Cockerill, he was given part of the order for the rails for the country’s – and continental Europe’s – first railway line, which opened in 1835 between Mechelen and Brussels. He was Mayor of Fayt from 1819 to 1830, and in 1833 became the owner of Escaille Château. He made major changes to the site to remedy the harmful effects of damp, which made the old lordly manor unsanitary. He only lived there for a few months, however, dying there in 1838. His widow nonetheless continued to live there until she died in 1844.
( FAYT 1881 – MANAGE 1963 )
Rodolphe Parmentier was the son of a Fayt-based industrialist, the forebear of whom was behind the creation of the future Anglo-Franco-Belge – a mythical railway material construction company in La Croyère. Parmentier himself was director of a small company in Manage, but was best known for his literary talents; he was the author of several short stories and plays. Although his main hero, Jean Lariguette, did not achieve the renown of Toine Culot created by Arthur Masson, he nonetheless enjoyed fame in the interwar period.