Filature Nouvelle Orléans
THE ABANDONED FACTORY IN BELGIUM
‘Filature Nouvelle Orléans’ or in short ‘FNO’ is an abandoned textile factory in Gent. The big factory was in use from 1896 until 1996. Today the protected monuments are in a very bad state.
In 1896 ‘Cotonnière Nouvelle Orléans’ was built along the Nieuwe Vaart, the canal connecting the two canals Gent-Oostende and Gent-Terneuzen. Eventually the site was expanded in 1899 with a new four-story building. This Manchester style building is flanked by the eye-catching staircase tower.
In 1905 the main building was enlarged by Architect Serafinus De Taeye. In 1907 he also designed the new office buildings in Flemish Neo-Renaissance style. Finally he also added a water reservoir on top of the staircase tower in 1908. In the 19030s new offices were built and the brick chimney was erected in 1947. During its heyday the cotton mill employed 9 thousand people.
From FNO to UCO
In 1957 the company merged with ‘De Waele & Röthlisberger’ to form a new company: ‘Filature Nouvelle Orléans’ or in short ‘FNO’. The company continued growing until the glory days of the textile industry in Gent were over. In 1972, FNO was bought by UCO or ‘Filatures et Tissages Union Cotonnière’. Despite the investments, in 1988 the factory was closed down. Consequently the machinery was transmitted to other UCO factories or resold. Some of the employees got jobs in other textile mills, others were fired. After this merge, almost the entire Gent cotton industry was in the hands of one company.
On January 3, 1995, the Manchester building, the 1896 and 1907 office buildings, the chimney and the old cotton sheds were listed as a monument. The buildings were then used by the company Barco for a few years until they moved out in 1996. In 2006 the Gent fire brigade built a new fire station on the site of FNO. For the classified building are no future plans yet. I visited ‘Filature Nouvelle Orléans’ in 2006 and 2015.