liens evitement

Réduire le texte Agrandir le texte Imprimer la page

The port vieil

Cité épiscopale d’Albi

The Tarn has been used for navigation since ancient times, but it was only in the 1820’s that it was rendered navigable between Albi and Gaillac thanks to a system of locks. Two of these locks, as well as the lock-house, still exist today close to the Pont-vieux.

A barge service today allows visitors to discover ancient mills and quays that bear witness to the activity on the Tarn (up to 50,000 tonnes of coal from Carmaux sailed through Albi very year from 1835 to 1865) as well as the sites of the various industries that animated the right bank neighbourhood called the ’Bout-du-Pont:’ 19th century dye-works, weavers, brick and hat manufacturers...

At the foot of the Berbie palace, on the banks of the Tarn, were a plethora of ship mills, resembling rustic paddle steamers. They remained stationary on the bank of the river and the energy of the river current was translated into the rotation of the wheel(s) and used to operate mills for flour or oil or sawmills. The advantage of a ship mill is that it is movable and so can be placed where the current is most suitable.

From the 14th to the 18th century the pillars of the Pont-vieux carried many houses but these were demolished during terrible flooding in 1766.

At the foot of the pillars people fished using a special type of net called an ’épervier,’ a conical net that was thrown from the banks or from a boat. The net was thrown such that its circular opening would be completely open as the net fell through the water.

As the net was hauled back in, the opening was closed and fish were trapped inside the net. This type of fishing is particularly suitable in shallow waters.

The river bed, which had a tendency to become blocked with silt, was maintained by sand dredgers who then provided the burgeoning town with the necessary building materials.

The haulage was done by wandering labourers known as ’fresh water sailors’ or ’free galley-slaves’ as their work was especially difficult and dangerous.

It took two weeks to travel against the current from Bordeaux to Albi.

A veritable river commerce

Gaillac’s wines, hemp from Cannavière for making rope, wood and oak planks to make wine barrels, woad and saffron, glass, manufactured in the forest of the Gresigne and pottery from Montans were all transported on the river.

Menu | Top