The weaving workshop

Soierie Vivante presents the last family weaving workshop representative of the tens of thousands of family workshops in Croix-Rousse

The municipal weaving workshop

Created in the 19th century, the workshop is of great historical interest because it is the last family weaving workshop in Croix-Rousse.

Its intact interior architecture is representative of that of the tens of thousands of family workshops which occupied the Croix Rousse in the 19th century.

The 65 m² of this production and living space includes both a space dedicated to family life, with a kitchen and an underside (bedroom on the mezzanine, located above the kitchen), and also the workshop, with its looms and an electric duckling machine.

Soierie Vivante organizes weaving demonstrations on a 19th century handloom (manual) and on mechanical (electrical) looms, which operated for production until 1990. You will also be able to discover the area dedicated to the daily life of the canuts.

Guided tours all year round: Tuesday to Saturday, 15 p.m. and 17 p.m., without reservation, 12 bis rue Justin Godart 69004 Lyon

The history of the mechanical weaving workshop

by Hélène Carleschi

This reading traces the history of this workshop through the life and work of the Ressicaud-Fighiera family, the former owners.

Traditional Setup

of the family

The workshop, created at the end of the 19th century, is located at 12bis of the Montée Justin Godart in Lyon 4th. It was successively occupied by Messrs. Rochard, then Ressicaud (in 1926) and Fighiera until 1980.

To our knowledge, it is the only surviving witness of the thousands of workshops set up in the district. This one is of good dimensions (10 x 7m), with 5 large windows, which allowed the installation of 4 looms, but also a living space fitted out next to them.

Indeed, in the same small space are the kitchen, and above it the famous sloping (or hanging), which in a narrow space, is delimited by a few beams and some boards (about 4 x 3m).

The kitchen is quite well insulated from the looms and their precious fabrics. It is the coolest room in the house, so it is sometimes called "souilarde" to designate it. It has a stone sink and a (coal) stove. In addition to preparing meals, more professional activities were carried out, such as the (steaming) of certain varieties of yarn or fabric (such as crepe).

En haut était aménagée une petite chambre (appelée "soupente" ou "suspente" à Lyon), qui accueillait un lit et au moins une ou deux paillasses (matelas en paille posés à même le sol), qui en tenaient lieu, le tout ouvrant sur l'atelier.

The 1924 deed of sale specifies that the workshop itself has outbuildings and uses, namely an attic, a sort of small room fitted out under the roof (with many others, which could accommodate journeymen and/or apprentices), and a cellar, used in particular to house coal for heating. Hence a right of access to the staircase that leads to it; there is also the cesspit (WC) shared by the three workshops on the first floor.
Finally, access to the communal well, which is located in the neighbours' courtyard.

The most remarkable elements are also the ceiling height (more than 4.20 metres) corresponding to that of the looms, and its robustness, as it is reinforced with oak beams less than 20 centimetres apart. The surface area of the windows, occupying half of the walls, is also impressive.

This is a functional architecture of unparalleled robustness in the early 19th century (except for the beautiful patrician residences of the aristocracy or the upper middle class). You could almost call it industrial architecture.


The workshop has three looms: two of them are relatively recent, dating back to the 1950s. The third is a "bistanclac", a handloom characteristic of the 19th century.

These three looms were manufactured nearby and are equipped with mechanics designed and manufactured in Croix-Rousse (Verdol, Staübli and Jacquard), with "Lyonnaise-style" assemblies:

  • The bistanclac, or handloom, is a plain loom with a type 104 Jacquard mechanism. It is classified as a historical monument.
  • The first mechanical loom involves a rope assembly of a chain of 9,600 warp threads
  • The second mechanical loom is a plain loom in large width with a dobby used to read the drawing

The workshop also includes an interesting electric canetière...

A unique set saved by the City of Lyon!

This workshop is a witness to the era of the canuts of the 19th century. Mr. ROCHARD, born in the Loire in 1872, worked and lived there with his entire family for many years. His two children were born there in 1898 and 1906. Looking for a more spacious premises, it was Claudius RESSICAUD who acquired it in 1926. As soon as they bought the property, the RESSICAUD family chose not to live in the workshop. She rents an apartment upstairs in the same building. Since then, the workshop has been used solely for production.

Their daughter Renée, who entered the profession at the age of 14, married Georges FIGHIERA in 1947. The latter joined his in-laws in the operation of the workshop. The family produces high-quality fabrics: "high novelty", dress fabrics, double-sided fabrics, "gold and silver lamé" fabrics, crepe de chine (natural silk), fabrics for the English court, etc.

But the workshop almost disappeared. After the death of Mr. FIGHIERA in 1983, attempts by Mr. WALDER, Mr. DELAFOSSE, and Mr. JACQUET were inconclusive. It was then considered to sell the looms "by weight".

Aware that this was the last canut workshop, Michèle GIRAUD, daughter of Georges and Renée FIGHIERA, decided to do everything she could to save this typical and authentic workshop. After many unsuccessful contacts, it was his meeting with the association Soierie Vivante that allowed the workshop to continue to live. In 2001, Soierie Vivante ensured its preservation by renting the premises to Mrs. FIGHIERA, and by opening it to the public with guided tours.

In 2013, Soierie Vivante worked to ensure the preservation of the weaving workshop by offering its purchase to the City of Lyon. Indeed, Mrs. FIGHIERA wanted to ensure the survival of this workshop in a sustainable way. The City of Lyon, after having bought the weaving workshop at the instigation of Soierie Vivante, had it brought up to safety standards, and trusted Soierie Vivante to continue to present it to the public.