Monday, November 13, 2017

Fabrique de Bérets, Hendaye

Researching the old beret factories may not sound like archaeology, but it sure resembles it. Very little information is documented, many of the old workers have passed away and written (internet) material is sketchy at best. 
I was delighted to find an article on one of the few French manufacturers located in the Basque Country: the Fabrique de Bérets in Hendaye. Still, little information and ven less photo's....
The factory was set up by madame Benita Jauregui, widow of Perez; she married at 17, gave birth to her son at 18 and lost her husband at 19 and died herself at the age of 100, long after the closure of her factory. 
The beret factory was set up on the ground floor of a large American style colonial villa. The roof was turned into a bassin to collect rainwater, as the manufacturing process uses many liters of water per beret. 
The factory attracted skilled tradespeople from Spain, especially during and after the Civil War there; typically from Boinas Elosegui in Tolosa and many women were hired from across the border in Spain. 
Labels used, in order of quality, were:
Erregea (le roi en Français); Le Vieux Basque; Mon Béret; El Caserio
The business suffered during WWII, but saw it's best years shortly after. However, sales went downwards during the early 1950s and the factory was bought the competitors Olibetti and Crosnier.
In 1955 the extended factory had to shut its doors.

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