The Historic Moulin de Courcelles

Association Bicycle Power is located at the historic mill of Arbois Moulin de Courcelles. The building is located in the historic centre of town of Arbois across the river Cuisance from the home, laboratory and museum of Louis Pasteur.

The first written evidence of Arbois dates from about 966-67AD. It indicates that it was a rural hamlet serving the local vineyards. By the eleventh and twelfth centuries Arbois had grown in size and importance. In the early 1100's a chateau was built for the counts of Burgundy among whose visitors were Frédéric de Barbarousse, the emperor. Arbois was now a centre of power. In the thirteenth century walls with towers were built around it for protection.

Arbois has been renowned for the quality of its wine since at least the 13th century, when the Parisian aristocracy were known to buy quantities of wine from Arbois and compliment the quality (direct mention of Philip le Bel). It was the heart of the wine culture of the Comté de Bourgogne. Its wines continue to this day to be an important part of its economy with at least 32 wine boutiques in the town. In fact, Arbois is considered to be the wine capital of the Jura. (link to the Wine Searcher article on Arbois wines:)

The first mention of the Moulin de Courcelles was in 1362 in the Catal d'actes n 1504 vidimus de 1362, Compte de construction du vannage. Then again in 1493, in a history written by Pascal BONNET, (Bousson de Mairet, op cit, act de 1493). So apparently this site has been used for water power for at least 600 years. The current building rests partly on a vaulted foundation that probably dates from that period.

Over the course of the centuries ownership of the mill has passed to a number of families. The historical owners from 1557 until now were: Count Philippe Marchant, Samuel Beschet, the sisters Marchand, François Laurioz and his son George.

As well as the ownership, the activities powered by the mill and even its name have changed over the centuries. The records from the 16th century show the following:

In 1740 the Moulin du Roy was used to produce oil. There are historic documents that the owner petitioned the King to prohibit another mill from being set up in the same business. The King decided that the competition was good for the price of oil and for his own tax intake. At this time, there were two physical mills on this site with two entry canals. The two mills were obligated to share the water rights.

In 1829, the mill still produced oil, but was also a saw mill. At this time, Samual Bechet applied to add a flour mill to the other activities. On 18 July 1831, water rights were granted by royal order to the two Marchand sisters, who each owned one of the 2 canals. The name returned to Moulin de Courcelles. It had 4 water wheels.In 1890, François Laurioz, a manufacturer-mechanic, opened a general mechanics workshop at the Moulin du Courcelles, which became commonly known as the Usine de Laurioz.


During the 89 years of ownership by the Laurioz family, the 2 canals were joined into a single canal. The Usine de Laurioz manufactured and installed hydraulic equipment, including wheels and turbines. In fact, many of the historic small hydro sites, mention Laurioz turbines. They also had a sawmill and paper mill. Additionally, they manufactured equipment for viticulture such as wine presses. By 1900, the growth of the dairy industry led Laurioz to specialize in dairy equipment as well. They also made fireplaces, furnaces, and presses.


In conjunction with the College of Arbois, the Usine de Laurioz encouraged learning through factory apprenticeships (see photo below of child labour in a dangerous factory setting).


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