The factory site at Braine le Comte (Hainaut, BE) has long since fallen derelict, and only the front of the building has been preserved, but once it was the workplace for more than 800 glassworkers who worked for the Fauquez company (Verreries de Fauquez).|
© Bernard Delnatte; http://baladescentre.skynetblogs.be/
As so often with the history of the glass industry, the documentation is very patchy, and the knowledge about Fauquez products very limited. This page represents an attempt to start gathering this information together, and establish a place for it within the industrial history of the area.
In 1899, Émile Michotte, a glassworker from Manage, purchased the paper mill of Fauquez, Braine le Comte, founded in 1836, and transformed it into a tumbler factory, increased and renamed in 1901 S.A. des Verreries de Fauquez.
In 1904, Arthur Brancart (1870-1934) was appointed technical manager of the factory. The 1920s were the golden age of Fauquez, with the invention of Marbrite.
The main factory was dedicated for many years to the production of Marbrite, a fire-polished decorative tile which was mostly used to highlight the exterior of buildings, and for feature-tiling in bathrooms and lobby areas. Made from an opaque glass which resembled marble, the technique used cold-rollers bearing a regular pattern which caused the surface of the glass sheet to cool more quickly, and resulting in a 'controlled cloudiness'. Consistent in quality and available in bright colours, Marbrite is well-recognised and well-documented in the literature of art-deco architecture, especially in Belgium, and competed for the European market against Pilkington(UK) and Chodau(CZ).
The sudden wealth which Marbrite created for the town was reflected by Arthur Brancart having a large part of the village built, as well as the school, the cinema, the village hall, the shops and last but not least the glass chapel (see below).
Labelled "Braine Le Comte - Made in Belgium"
Flowers in grey 'crinkles' with gold foliage.
Although it has proved very difficult to identify any real catalogue documentation, it seems likely that the factory at Braine le Comte continued with both rolled glass and hand blown glass work through the 40's and 50's making lampshades and bowls as well as the production of other blown-glass items for several Dutch retailers.
In the late sixties and early seventies, the factory is know to have produced designs for RIMAC
The factory was sold to Bouteilleries Belges Réunies in 1972 and the last oven was switched off in 1974.
The 'Verre Antique' range (which often bears a distinctive label) probably dates from this last period, and follows the lead of Meydam's Etruska range and Verboeket's Antiqua range, using glass with lots of air-bubbles and aiming to enhance the 'hand-made' look of the product drawing in part from classic Roman shapes.
The Veriplack-Momiplast group produced plastic containers on the site until 1981.
"Verre Antique = Braine-le-Comte" c. 1974
Amongst the surviving monuments to the Fauquez factory, The Chapel of Glass shows the effect of Marbrite on a grand scale.
In 1929, Brancart built the St. Lutgarde chapel, aka the Glass Chapel, to demonstrate the use of a modern product (Marbrite) in a traditional building. The interior and the exterior of the chapel were both completely covered with the local brand of opaque glass. Until 1977 it was used for church services and sometimes as exhibition space, until being purchased in 1990 by Michaël Bonnet, who saved it from destruction. Today it is used as a home, as a performance hall, as a memorial to the industrial patrimony, and also contains a Breton crêperie.
The factory's monument to its dead in World War 1, which still stands in the centre of the town, also features a discrete border of Marbrite tiles.
The Glass Chapel, Braine Le Comte
can be opened to visitors by appointment and contains a small exhibition of the products which were made at the Fauquez factory