Legendary makers of bells and carillons

The History of the Bollée Family of Orléans (France)

Jean-Baptiste Bollée, the first in a long line of Bollée bell makers, was born around the year 1715 in Breuvannes in the Haute-Marne region of France. This small part of the Duchy of Lorraine had already produced a certain number of bell makers. His grandchildren, Jean Baptiste Amédée (born in the year 1812) and Ernest Sylvain (born in the year 1814), eventually took over the parental enterprise while working as itinerant bell founders.

With the development of the railway system and its facilitation of transportation over long distances of heavy loads such as church bells, the two family members ultimately established themselves into two separate permanent sites. Jean-Baptiste Amédée Bollée opened up a foundry in the hamlet of Saint-Jean-de-Braye near Orléans while Ernest Syvain Bollée set himself up in Sainte-Croix in the region of Le Mans.

Of the two firms, the Bollée bell foundry of Saint-Jean-de-Braye has continued making bells and carillons right up into the 21st Century.

The bell foundry in Le Mans had begun to diversify its commercial activities in the mid 19th Century. The casting of new bells was progressively replaced by various industrial production items such as hydraulic systems, wind turbines, armaments as well as vehicles of many types. A portion of the tooling and equipment for making bells was transferred to the Bollée bell foundry in Saint-Jean-de-Braye. These are still in use today.

In the year 2011, the Bollée firm was taken over by a group of French campanologists who promptly adopted the new name of SARL BOLLÉE, thereby retaining the know-how, the secrets of the bell fabrication process as well as the age-old traditions of the successive family generations of bell makers originating from the region of Lorraine in Eastern France.

A few years after, in 2017, the production of bronze bells was transferred to Strasbourg in the French region of the Alsace. The new in-house workshop was set up in conformity with all safety regulations and environmental hygiene norms whilst at the same time retaining the traditional methods of bell making. Nonetheless, the surroundings of the time-honored foundry in Saint-Jean-de-Braye were kept intact as they had been in the 19th Century.

At this moment in time, an outlet of the new firm remains in place in Saint-Jean-de-Braye, thereby maintaining that important link with the past glory of the Bollée Family bell makers.

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