Villey le sec
Villey le sec people also locally named the Trabecs, wish you a happy new year.

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In the village we have a fort

by Danièle URIOT

Many visitors flock throughout the year to see this imposing construction, take a short walk on the little train which runs on a 60 gauge track and to see the "Highland" cows grazing in the company of a few goats.

But do we know what it cost the residents of the village at the time of construction?

During my research, I found some deliberations which show us that this construction greatly disrupted the life of this peaceful village.
The work was studied from December 5, 1873 and already the site presented great difficulties since the village occupied the ideal site for the establishment of the fort.

The project consisted of razing the village, but the residents knew that in their commune there was only water in the area where the wells that supplied their house were located, otherwise it was rocky ground where the water flowed. ’infiltrated rapidly If the solution of razing the village was mentioned, the genius of resolving to make the best use of the site in the face of the urgency of the work : the demolition of the village would have delayed the time taken to build the ’work and especially the cost thereof. This time the project was approved and the population had to accept the difficulties of expropriating the land necessary for this construction.

However, the project was launched and from August 24, 1874, the Morel company, obtained the award of the contracting authority. The decree of declaration of public interest and emergency was published on December 4, 1874 and from February 12, 1875, the exploitation of the quarry known as “de la Chalade” was authorized. However, the work had to await the approval of the Minister of War on June 28, 1875 and that of the superior director on July 1. During these few months, the plan was perfectly studied and preparatory work undertaken: establishment of an inclined plane between the quarry and the fort, delimitation of the land and draft deeds of expropriation. We will build the new paths, at the exit of the rue du moulin à vent which will later become rue du fort, the chemin de Chaudeney will be diverted, the paths of the coast and of Maron will be moved to the east and will enter the village by a bridge which will span the north and south batteries.
Au village nous avons un fort

On August 30, 1874, request from Mr Morel, entrepreneur of Fort Villey le Sec, for authorization to build barracks on the free communal land that exists at the exit of the village next to the path that leads to the Moselle.

The council agrees but on one side of the road and without it being able to exceed either for the location of the constructions or for the deposits of materials the limits which will be traced to him by the municipal administration. The whole for an annual allowance of 50 francs.

Request made by Sir Parriere entrepreneur to have the authorization to occupy temporarily to build a hut leaving the village on the right on the road going to Toul, and a hut on a ground between the fountain of the village and the straddling of the paths of great communication and Gondreville.

The council seen its deliberations of October 25 and November 8, 1874 by which the sieur Morel, Parriere and Vanbrusselt cantinier were authorized to build barracks during the work of fortifications of Villey le sec asks the mayor to pass a lease for a period of 3 years with each tenant.

Work began on July 26, 1875, even before the issue of acquisitions was fully settled: the land for the North and South batteries would not be acquired until October. There followed a long period of four years of construction during which hundreds of workers worked hastily. We began by building artillery ridges, then digging ditches, which quickly put the batteries in a state of defense. However, at the reduced, we had to wait for the construction of the barracks since the latter supports the parapet.

Around the village a real anthill is active on all sides. The major works require the occupation of 15 plots of land at a place called "the windmill". Some plots of land around the village have been covered by deposits of earth from the digging of the ditches. These deposits of bad land have caused the residents to lose arable land and to be obliged to obtain some things to feed the land and lighten it with sand. A huge network of barbed wire flanked the ditche

On July 4, 1875, the council considering that following the fortification work of Villey le sec, a certain number of rural exploitation roads were removed, in particular the Chaudeney road and that of the coast at the exit of the village going to the Moselle, that the town cannot do without its paths and cannot take charge of establishing new ones itself, requests that the state remake these paths and that the paths leading to the Moselle will be ceded to the state for 50 francs per are taking into account a width of 10 meters for the width of the path.

The workforce hired for such important work has turned life in the village upside down. After the war of 1870 the population reached 400 residents, in 1876 there were 718, 518 lived in the village and 137 lived in barracks. Foreigners were numerous (37 Belgians, 17 Italians, 12 Germans and others). Cafes were making fortunes. The rural policeman found it difficult to suppress pilferage and sometimes felt in danger. There was even a crime: an Italian worker killed one of his compatriots and when the gendarmes

under an arrest warrant, dressed in their uniform and in accordance with the orders of their boss

came to apprehend the murderer, he was long gone.

August 13, 1876, considering that the rural guard service in the town is subsequently the presence of the multitude of foreigners residing in the town for the construction of forts, which has become difficult and even dangerous - the council is of the opinion that ’it is necessary to provide the rural guard in function, with a weapon for his personal defense. The council votes 35 francs for this.
But the arrival of the many workers in the village did not have only drawbacks. A number of young girls found husbands there from 1873 to 1983, the number of marriages exceeded by 30% that of neighboring municipalities and the number of births increased by more than 50%. Even in the church the factory council asks for a grant to buy new pews.
Fort Villey le sec was completed in its entirety in 1879.

It is the only example of a village inside a fort in modern French fortification.

The soldiers take possession of the fort, and put all the equipment that has been installed in working order.

When shots were to take place, half an hour before a blank cannon was fired and "stars" roamed the paths of the dangerous areas to remove those who were there. If it was the turret of the fort which was to fire, the residents were recommended to open the windows, then the “rallying” bell sounded to announce the end of the shooting. Teams went to the fields to pick up the debris or unexploded shells. The damage had to be declared in town hall.

In 1876, following endless negotiations about all the roads that were taken by the works and the new ones built to replace them, the council saw that any road built on the glacis could not be or become municipal property, it was content with the perpetual right of passage provided that the maintenance will remain the responsibility of the state, for all other parts of the new roads, he claims ownership and agrees to maintain it. Until 1877 negotiations were carried out by the municipality in order to regulate all these new paths which crossed or not the new works on the glacis of the north battery or the conditions of passage around the south battery and the reduced. Then it was the question of the water in the fort.

On March 23, 1978, the engineer commander asked to be able to recover excess water from the Villey fountain to fill the fort’s cisterns. The council agrees but imposes conditions : always 1 m3 of water per hour to be used to supply the drinking trough and the public washhouse. Fix the cost.
The engineers warned the residents that following the trench dug to unite the fort to the north battery, they could no longer pass on the path which leads from the top of the rue du moulin à vent to the land and the chemin de Chaudeney. The council asks for the construction of a bridge over the trench which remains unanswered. The advice given that the requested bridge is built for the needs of the engineers, that the residents especially those of the street of the windmill have a great need for it to go towards Chaudeney and that the engineers cut all the exits to the residents request that the bridge is maintained as long as it will not harm the defense, that the residents have the authorization to cross this bridge and that the engineers maintain this bridge (wooden bridge). The engineers refuse to maintain the bridge.

The council considering that the town throughout the summer had lacked water, the residents were obliged to go to water their animals in the river, that they lacked water for themselves for their particular needs, expected that it is certain that the sources of the fountain and of a large number of wells in the village coming from the plateau have been dried up by the ditches of the fort: that it is of all justice that the genie restores the water to the municipality which were taken away from him and asks for a subsidy to be able to search for new waters and establish a reservoir which has become absolutely necessary.

On February 10, 1880, the mayor explained that the Sieur Morel, entrepreneur left the town without compensating it for the land it owned and that he used for the establishment of its inclined plane without filling the deep excavation that he made tremors on the coast and finally without clearing the path of exploitation of the chanlatte which had become impracticable as a result of the deposits made by the said Sieur Morel: the council is of the opinion to ask for an indemnity of 100 francs and the he obligation to Sieur Morel to restore everything to the state it was before his arrival in Villey le sec.

The advice expected that following the construction of the fort the garden of the teacher was expropriated for 2596 francs placed since in rents on the state, that this sum was to be used to buy a new garden when the favorable opportunity arises. will present.

The council of May 8, 1881 expected that the fort removed several small sources that fed the fountain, that a cistern was needed to store the water, that the war of 1870 delayed until today, that the animals in the period of drought can no longer go to drink in the Moselle because of the pipe which raised the level requires that it be built right next to and above the current fountain located at the bottom of the village a cistern that can contain 800 m3 of water. The 2500 francs available in the budget will be used for this construction. The council hopes to have a help either from the engineers or from the ministry of defense because this cistern can also be advantageous for the garrison of the fort.
Indeed, during this period of construction of the fort, the town also had to endure the worries and inconveniences created by the canalization of the Moselle (1873-1880).

This fort, now fully integrated into our environment, seems essential to our life. If only "to take our little walk".