FRANCE

In France the early lace industry was based on handmade bobbin lace. Skilled workers, mostly women, applied detailed designs on a net background to create a coveted lace fabric. The French government sought to introduce machines to the French lace industry against British laws forbidding the export of British machines. In the early nineteenth century, British lacemakers succeeded in getting machines into northern France and many set up in Calais. In those early years , the Calais of today was two entities - Calais being the town within the fortified walls with access to the harbour and the English Channel to the north, and St Pierre-lès-Calais being the open village beyond and to the south of Calais. 

As the industry expanded, the lace machines and the workers moved out of Calais and into St Pierre-lès-Calais. With an influx of people needing buildings for their machines and in which to live, the village began to grow and before the upheavals of 1848 it is this developing village of St Pierre-lès-Calais as the lacemakers knew it

Calais Harbour.jpg

Calais from the harbour

Image: Gillian Kelly Collection

CALAIS

These views of Calais and St Pierre-lès-Calais were made around 1900.

The postcards of Calais and St Pierre-lès-Calais are available to us due to the generosity of Gillian Kelly.

If you have an appropriate image of a building, village or town where your lacemaking ancestors lived or worked, please contact us.

Calais - Courgain Maritime

Quai de la Colonne looking south towards the lighthouse

Image: Gillian Kelly Collection

"It is sweet to me to think of you"

Marguerite's message on this postcard is a partial quote from "It is sweet to me to think of you; but the absence casts a certain bitterness which squeezes the heart" written by Madame de Sévigné in her letter to Mademoiselle de Grignan dated Wednesday 21 August 1675. 

Calais

Looking north from Tour du Guet over Place d'Armes towards the boat harbour, Fort Risban and the English Channel.

The Courgain Maritime is far right.

Tour du Guet is a 16th century watch tower.

Image: Gillian Kelly Collection

Calais

Looking north towards the original casino located on the beach dunes

Image: Gillian Kelly Collection

Calais - Place d' Armes

The old town looking north east towards the lighthouse built 1848

Image: Gillian Kelly Collection

Calais

Looking northwest from Notre Dame over Place d'Armes (centre) towards the original casino located on the beach dunes

Tour du Guet is on the left of the view.

Image: Gillian Kelly Collection

Calais

Rue de la Citadelle now named rue d'Andre Gershel looking east towards Place d'Armes. Tour du Guet is at the rear with the now demolished Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) at the end of the street.

Porte Royale c1830

Gate from within the fortified town

Image: Gillian Kelly Collection

Image: Gillian Kelly Collection

Calais

Rue Royale looking north

Image: Gillian Kelly Collection

Calais

Rue Royale

Image: Gillian Kelly Collection

Calais

Rue des Thermes

Image: Gillian Kelly Collection

Calais

Rue du Havre looking north from Place d'Armes

Image: Gillian Kelly Collection

SAINT PIERRE-LÈS-CALAIS  

St Pierre-lès-Calais

Boulevard Lafayette looking southeast from intersection with Boulevard Jacquard

St Pierre-lès-Calais

Boulevard Jacquard looking north

from intersection with Boulevard Lafayette

Image: Gillian Kelly Collection

Image: Gillian Kelly Collection

St Pierre Church c1830s

Cottage

Corner rue Vauban and Quai du Commerce

Image: Gillian Kelly

Image: Stephen Black

Cottage today

Image: Stephen Black

Image: Gillian Kelly

Image: Stephen Black

Image: Gillian Kelly

St Pierre-lès-Calais

Lace workers cottages