20th Century: The Decline Of Port-Louis

The railroad
The sailors of Port Louis
The War of 1939-45
The mass grave
Henri Laurent, photographer
After the dynamic or stormy pulsations of previous periods, the twentieth century appears as a constant depletion. Even if the train brings, at the beginning of this century, a dynamization of exchanges, people and goods, it will disappear like many of these elements of progress in front of the necessities of profitability and the rise of the automobile at the end of the second world War.

The 1914-1918 war brought, as everywhere, its procession of tragedies, death and the maritime hospital was full of wounded.

The sailors of Port-Louis were associated with the feats of arms and the many maritime tragedies which marked these difficult years, both on land and at sea.
When peace has returned, it is the sardines that are becoming scarce. Port-Louis is reconverted into tuna fishing but the activity of its ports faces strong competition from the development of the fishing port of Lorient in Kéroman (1927).

The maritime hospital, the last Port-Louisian bastion of the Navy, was transferred to Lorient in 1936.

The war of 1939-1945 was marked by remarkable events concerning Port-Louis:
– in 1940, the escape of Jean-Bart ordered by Admiral Pierre-Jean Ronarc’h, from a Port Louisian family,
– the evacuation and bombing of the city (around 200 houses destroyed),
– the occupation and liberation of the Lorient pocket which tragically ended with the discovery of the mass grave of the 69 executed in the Citadel.

Memorial to the 69 people shot at the mass grave discovered near the citadel in 1945.
Since 1950, the canneries, one after the other, have closed their doors while the fishing fleet has dwindled, bringing in its wake much of the local craftsmanship.

Yachting and tourism will have to strive to fill the gaps in the port …

The Port-Louis railway at the end of the track

The CM stations ( C hemin de fer du M orbihan) were small, austere rectangular buildings with a single French window on the ground floor and a single storey window per facade; the goods hall was contiguous.

Those at the end of the section or at the terminus, as in Port-Louis, were larger: two doors on the ground floor and two windows on the first floor. There were machine sheds at the terminals.

Port-Louis station – coll. go.
The commercial speed of steam trains was in the range of 23 to 25 km per hour.

The first 12 locomotives delivered in 1902 were Corpet and Louvet, type 030T , 15 tonnes empty with 0.95 diameter wheels. They only ran on the departmental lines, except for one which was used as a tram on the La Trinité s / Mer – Étel line. Pinguely

type machines were built on the same designs as the first Corpet and Louvet . There were several deliveries. In 1911, the Port-Louis line was equipped with machines 317 to 324 , numbered 38 to 45. They were all type 030 T

, 15 tonnes empty, wheel diameter 0.95, Walschaerts distribution . They were all painted fairly light green (PLM) with red streaks.


Short wheelbase (2m) capable of entering curves of 40 meters,
weighed 15 tonnes empty, carried 2000 liters of water and 550 kgs of coal.
It could tow a convoy of 85 tons on a slope of 25m / m (per meter) .
coll. go.

The fleet of cars was mainly made up of two-axle cars:
– some were mixed, with 6 1st seated places and 12 2nd seated places;
– the others only had second classes with 18 seats.
The bottom of the body was made of exposed non-sheeted wood. The places were all perpendicular to the step.

The freight equipment included covered wagons, dumpers, platforms, mobile sleepers, all painted gray.

The CMs disappeared after the war of 1939-45, although they still served during the Occupation.

From an article by MR Hulot, “La Vie du Rail” n ° 643, 1964.


summer trainWe lived at that time in Rouen and we came every summer to spend our holidays with our grandmother in Port-Louis who ran the “Café”, recently run by Mme Pézennec at La Pointe.
The journey by train from Rouen, Rennes, Lorient, lasted a good day. We went down most often to Lorient, but our pleasure, the kids, was to take the “teuf-teuf” in Hennebont to Port-Louis via kervignac, Merlevenez, Plouhinec and Riantec.
I don’t remember how long this trip lasted, the average was low but the spectacle was permanent. Through the countryside, fields and woods, it was not uncommon to see the train stop to load, against its will, a cow for the slaughterhouses of Port Louis. When she escaped, the “bullfight” began to the delight of travelers.
Sometimes latecomers would run along the track and jump onto the rear platform of the wagon, encouraged by its occupants. The passenger cars were not very comfortable. A central corridor separated two rows of two-seater wooden benches. The heavy smoke of the locomotive often invaded them, bringing its share of cinders.
We arrived at Port-Louis, exhausted, sticky, black as charcoal burners, but happy with this journey full of adventure.
Testimony of Mrs. CONAN

Whistle, for the departure
The great journey has begun
Thirteen kilometers, from side to side
Every day to start again
He went off jolting
And also a lot while blowing.
It was the little train of yesteryear.
This, by the coast while going up
Moaning loudly on its springs
Arrived all the same safely.
It was certainly not the
Mals trial right on time, without postponement
Of course there was his age
No doubt of having served too much
People made this great trip
Some, simply out of envy.
Yes, all then, all, we loved him, To
take him was a day of celebration
Soon we were rushing
Often on a whim
Port-Louis Hennebont, what a ballad
To parade so slowly.
We even played an aubade there
For joy at all times.
And then one day it was the end,
The last trip of the deceased.

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