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Tanneries and bark-mills

Tanneries and bark-mills

Tanneries spread out thanks to the water and to oak forests. In Houffalize, there were 10 Tanneries in 1889.

« At the beginning, the business of a tanner was the same as the business of a shoemaker »(1). In the 18th century, the tanners only worked with native skins. In the 19th century, industrial business developped thanks to the import of south american skins brought in by the railway.

When youn talk of tannery, you think of tanning. Tanning is a chemical protector against parasitic insects. The fibers of the skin become imputrescible. To do that, the bark of the oak was loosened from the oak trunk. The barks were gathered together in bundles and pulverized in the bark-mills.

The leather required several operations :

  • It was put in salt and afterwards out.
  • The skins were cleaned
  • The skins were softened in tan pits with skins and barks beds ; then they remained 6 months in water. Afer 6 months, the barks were renewed and put again in water for 6 months more.


(1) Dubru Alfred and Jehanson Eric, Contribution à l’histoire des tanneries en Ardenne et dans le Luxembourg, 2000, Edition Collective, page 13.