Did you know ...? #10

Do you know the social history of Cockerill ? (part 1)

In 1917, 100 years after the purchase of the Seraing château by John Cockerill, the world has already been at war for three long years. The Cockerill company cannot celebrate its anniversary in a fitting manner. And yet this would have been the celebration of a genuine industrial success with a social side.

From 1857 in fact, the Cockerill company made a name for itself by helping with the creation of an industrial school. It is to be one of the best in the country. The same year, a cholera epidemic hits the region and there are a great many victims. The company’s administrators therefore decided to finance the construction of a hospital/infirmary. Sick people and those injured in Cockerill factories (along with neighbouring factories) are cared for there.

Nine years later, another cholera epidemic decimated many workers and their wives, leaving behind them children without families. The administrators of the Cockerill company therefore decide to put a roof over their heads by founding an orphanage for all these children. The Sisters of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul looked after boys and girls, who received a good primary and professional education. They lived together there until they were old enough to work.

In 1917, the hospital and the orphanage were still in existence and numbered many orphans, sick people and old people.