News and views
The imminent return of the Esvres-sur-Indre No. 3 to working order (see below), means that two Éoliennes Bollée can be seen at work in the same district -- as the Dolus-le-Sec No. 1, which began operating again in June 2002, stands only a few kilometres away. The Château de Beauval No. 2, in Bassens in the Gironde, may also be capable of operating.
There are many deserving cases for preservation, but progress is often forestalled by lack of funding; returning a wind-engine that may not have worked for forty years to working order is no easy task, particularly given the height of some of the pylons.
***Château de la Vilaine (37320 Esvres-sur-Indre). Standing in the valley of the river Echandon, this No. 3 Éolienne Bollée was installed in the 1894-1900 period to supply water to a château set into the hillside above the pumps. Erected on a concrete pedestal, weighing about nine tons, the éolienne lifted water about 30 metres to the house. It consists of five segments, forming the spine of a 39-tread helical staircase giving access to a 2.6m-diameter platform with a one-metre high balustrade.
The éolienne worked successfully for many years, but was eventually replaced with electric pumps and fell into disrepair. In 2002, however, it was given to the commune and thoughts of renovation occurred.
Resplendent in new dove-grey paintwork, the Esvres éolienne was re-opened at 11am on 2nd July 2005. Thanks to assistance from state and regional funds, Noël Dupuy and Jean-Claude Archambault - the driving force behind the project and the superintendent of works -- were able to commission SMVG of Beaumont-en-Veron to undertake restoration work, helped by members of the local industrial-heritage association under the chairmanship of Jean-Claude Pestel. More information will be found on the Esvres website .
Though interest is increasing, and though more Éoliennes Bollée are being proposed for preservation, the future of others is increasingly precarious. This is due largely to deteriorating condition and ever-increasing costs.
We had believed that the Château de Chaalis ('Pomponne', 'Montjay-la-Tour') had been demolished to make way for the TGV Est, and that the future of the accompanying No. 3 Éolienne was under threat. However, it is clear that the situation is somewhat different: the house has been rebuilt, away from the TGV line, and the wind-engine is to be similarly treated. Whether it is to return to working order is not known at this time, but more details can be obtained from http://perso.wanadoo.fr/reliques/pomponne.htm
Another machine under threat is the Saint-Gervais-la-Forêt No. 1, on the outskirts of Blois. This is owned by a child-support agency, but was to be demolished as a 'health and safety hazard' in 2004. However, a visit by Régis Girard in May 2005 revealed that the Éoliennea particularly interesting exampleis still standing.
Another interesting survival is the 1926/27 No. 2 erected in the grounds of the Château la Fredonnière in Loir-et-Cher, which was built on an 1911-vintage pylon that had previously supported an American-style single-rotor machine. Unfortunately, the power was dismantled in 2004 and the fabric of the pylon, which is becoming increasingly fragile, is giving cause for real concern.
It is now known that the No. 2 wind-engine erected in 1892 in the grounds of the Villa Beau-Sejour, in Chouzy-sur-Cisse in Loire-et-Cher (no. 186 on the construction list), survives in surprisingly good condition; indeed, the pump, now electrically driven, is still being used. It is also reported that another Éolienne Bollée stands in Bagneux, to the east of Saumur; details are eagerly awaited.