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British Industrial History

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Louis Benet

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Louis Benet (1807-1877), of Louis Benet & Cie, was a French engineer and shipbuilder.

Born in La Ciotat, on July 3rd, 1805, the son of Toussaint Benet.

By 25 he was running construction sites in Marseilles, with his father. He then founded his own silk and cotton mill in La Ciotat.

In 1835, he abandoned the mill to establish shipyards. Although shipbuilding was well established in La Ciotat, Benet initially had to use British expertise in marine engine building.

In May 1836, Louis Benet launched the first French steamer of the Mediterranean, "Le Phocéen I".

The above information is from the Musée Ciotaden website[1]

Louis Benet came from a wealthy family, well established in Marseilles and La Ciotat. His father was a merchant, shipowner and a manufacturer. He owned a small yard for wooden vessels in the port of La Ciotat, and a cotton mill mainly focused on making sails. After managing the spinning mill for atime, Louis Benet established an iron foundry in Marseilles (1833) before taking an interest in shipbuilding.

1839 Locomotive construction started, with assistance from Robert Stephenson and Co, who initially sent an engineer, Edwards, who found that the facilities were totally unsuitable, and had to be reorganised. This aspect of the business proved to be unsuccessful, and was abandoned in 1848. However, thanks to Stephenson's network of contacts, Louis Benet was able to recruit the engineer John Barnes.[2]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] Musée Ciotaden website
  2. [2] 'L’atelier de construction ferroviaire. Louis Benet & Cie à La Ciotat (1839-1848' - 'The Rail Construction Shop of Louis Benet & Cie at La Ciotat (1839-1848)' by Xavier Daumalin, Revue d’histoire des chemins de fer, 2003