59 traces the end of the Industrial Revolution in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region (incorporated today into the “Hauts-de-France” county). The performance was developed after research was undertaken at the National Work Archives in Roubaix and is tied solely to a specific place in a specific town because of its emblematic Woollen Mill. Its decline can be summed up in a few key dates:
1957: « By the clock, 4.23pm. The Queen enters Roubaix. She’s chauffeured in a black Rolls Royce. All along the way, a thousand smiles await her at the factory gates. Through the car-window, she sees the thousand faces of popular enthusiasm. At 4.58pm, the Royal Rolls Royce enters the Woollen Mill factory, the biggest textile group in Europe. She is driven through the 400m lane where the clock stands. It is the first occasion that an automobile has taken this road. » (Album souvenir « Paris Match » – article « La visite de Sa Majesté Elizabeth II »)
1970: There are more than 7000 employees in the Woollen Mill.
End of 1999: The Woollen Mill is liquidated.
2011: The Woollen Mill is demolished. In fewer than thirty years, the number of people working in the textile industry in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais goes from 110 000 to 25 000.
The popular enthusiasm has waned since then.Cover Photo: 59 ©Agnès Butet