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Petit-Couronne (Municipality, Seine-Maritime, France)

Last modified: 2021-06-21 by ivan sache
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Flag of Petit-Couronne, current and former versions - Images by Olivier Touzeau, 16 February 2021

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Presentation of Petit-Couronne

The municipality of Petit-Couronne (8,655 inhabitants in 2018; 1,280 ha) is located 10 km south of Rouen.

Petit-Couronne was already settled in the Neolithic, as evidence by the Pierre d'État menhir. A treasure dated 260 was found near the old Roman road connecting Rotomagus (Rouen) to Lutetia (Paris) via Ugate (Caudebec-lès-Elbeuf).
Couronne was first mentioned in the 11th century in a chartulary recording the privileges granted by William the Conqueror to the abbey of Sainte-Trinité-du-Mont. Petit-Couronne and Grand-Couronne were first mentioned as separated places in the 12th century.
On 15 September 1793, the General Council of the Rouen District ordered the town to be renamed from Le Petit-Couronne to Fraternité, because Couronne ("crown") alluded to royalty.

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 17 February 2021

Flag of Petit-Couronne

The flag of Petit-Couronne (photo) is white with the municipal logo, which was adopted in 2009.
The semi-circle has two meanings: the arc stretched towards the future but also the assembly, the forum, the image of dialogue, exchange, democracy. The nucleus represents network, associations, family, cooperation.

The former flag of Petit-Couronne (photo, photo) was white with a juxtaposition of the former municipl logo, which had been adopted in 2002, and of the municipal coat of arms, "Azure an anchor argent surmounted by two torches in saltire or a chief wavy azure fimbriated argent three lion's heads erased gules", the two surmounted by the name of the municipality.
The logo has a letter "c", drawn with an energetic brushstroke, for the Seine irrigating the region and carrying initiatives. The circle is crossed by a dynamic diagonal, to symbolize the momentum of the town turned towards the future and the town's location on the north / south axis of the Rouen metropolitan area.
The blue color is reminiscent of the Seine, the Archipel (the local watersports complex), and space. The red color refers to the refinery, flare, energy, and dynamism. The green color symbolizes the Rouvray forest, the quality of life, and the natural environment.

On the arms, the three lion's heads come from Pierre Corneille's coat of arms, "Azure a fess or charged with three lion's heads gules two stars or in chief another of the same in base". The anchor symbolizes the fishing village in the 19th century and the seaport. The two flares refer to the oil refinery located in the town. The wave represents the flooded lands.
[Municipal website]

The tragedian Pierre Corneille inherited in 1639 the "house in the fields" (manor) in Petit-Couronne from his father, who had acquired it on 7 June 1608, surrounded by a 25 ha plot. His sister, Marie, was godmother of a child in the village in 1623, so was his daughter, also named Marie, in 1646 and 1648. This proximity with the villagers indicates that the writer actually lived in the house. In 1662, Corneille moved to Paris while his daughter, Marguerite, entered the Dominican convent in Rouen; to constitute her dowry when she took the coat in 1668, Corneille rented the manor to a farmer for 300 pounds per year, which were totally offered to the convent. The writer's son, also named Pierre, sold the domain on 28 December 1686, two years after Corneille's death, to Jacques Voisin, lord of Neufbosc. Acquired in 1700 by the lord of Franqueville, the manor was acquired in 1794, as a national good, by a descendant of Corneille's farmer, Fran├žois Guéroult.
The manor was re-discovered in 1838 by a member of the Rouen Academy and the Departmental Archivist of Seine-Inférieure. Acquired in 1874 by the Department of Seine-Inférieure, it was transformed into a museum dedicated to Corneille, which was taken over in 2016 by the Métropole Rouen Normandie.
[Pierre Corneille Muesum]

Until 1891, the only industry listed in Petit-Couronne was fishing. Fish captured by the local fishers were sent by railway to Paris. Depending on the floods and tides, the fishers embarked on small boats and used nets of 200 m in length and 8 m in height to encircle fish. Between February and July 1882, the fishers caught 30 salmons each day. Increasing pollution and regulation of the river caused the decline of fishing. The number of fishers registered in Petit-Couronne decreased from 20 in 1930 to 2 in 1955, Ismaël Billard and his cousin Armand Billard (d. 2004). The Billard family had 41 registered fishers between 1836 and 1936.
After the scuttling of the German fleet at Scapa Flow on 21 June 1919, France was offered two floating docks as a compensation. One of them was successfully installed in Rouen in 1921, which prompted the building of a new one. Four docks, from 4,200 to 8,000 ton in capacity, were used in Petit-Couronne by the main shipyards of the time (Normandie, Le Trait and Saint-Nazaire). Destroyed during the fighting of the liberation in 1944, the docks were re-established in 1950; they were eventually suppressed in 1989.
[Municipal website]

The Petit-Couronne refinery was inaugurated on 1 March 1929 by the Société des Pétroles Jupiter. Local manpower lacked, so that Jupiter hired Breton workers, as had done before the Grand-Couronne steelworks. The parish priest of Spézet, a small village in Finistère, sent several unemployed day laborers from the village to Petit-Couronne; a mutual aid system allowed them to come back to Spézet for a few vacation days in summertime. Petit-Couronne was soon Europe's most modern refinery, processing 600,000 ton crude oil in 1933. Its first extension, inaugurated the same year, was visited by famous guests transported from Paris by a special train.
The refinery was dismantled by the Germans in 1940, 5,200 ton of various devices being sent all over Europe; the workers did their best to slow down the dismantling and set fire to the storage tanks. Re-established On 8 September 1944, the refinery was taken over in 1948 by Shell. Storage and processing activities were increased and diversified. Taken over in April 2008 by Petroplus, the Petit-Couronne refinery went into liquidation in the aftermath of the bankruptcy of the company, declared on 24 January 2012.
The site was acquired in December 2014 by Valgo, which will set up a 3D (Deconstruction, Depollution, Development) scheme in partnership with Bolloré énergie and Eiffage Construction.
[Municipal website]

Before the building of dykes and the set up of irrigation, the pastures located on the bank of the Seine were fertilized by the river's floods. They produced hay that was harvested and shipped to Rouen and Paris via the Seine. The industrialization of Petit-Couronne did not immediately suppressed agriculture; in the middle of the 20th century, the municipality had 2,800 inhabitants and 12 farms, of 30 to 40 ha in area. In 1965, André Grouvel was the last active farmer in Petit-Couronne.
[Municipal website]

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 17 February 2021