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Hénin-Beaumont (Municipality, Pas-de-Calais, France)

Last modified: 2019-02-10 by ivan sache
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Flag of Hénin-Beaumont - Image by Ivan Sache, 7 March 2010

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Presentation of Hénin-Beaumont

The municipality of Hénin-Beaumont (25,915 inhabitants in 2005; 2,074 ha; municipal website) is located in the Pays Noir, the former coal-mining district of northern France, 30 km south of Lille. The municipality of Hénin-Beaumont was formed on 1 January 1971 by the merging of the former municipalities of Hénin-Liétard (1,350 ha) and Beaumont-en-Artois (724 ha).

Hénin-Liétard was mentioned for the first time, as Hennium, in 964, with several subsequent variants (Henninium, Heninium, Henim, Hinniacum, Henniacum, Hennin, Hanin...). It is generally believed that the etymology of Hénin is the same as of the province of Hainaut, that is Haininghem, "Haino's estate". Other proposed etymologies are the Celtic roots hen oen, "old ash" and the Latin word henniens, "whinning". "Evidence" for the last explanation is the great number of Gallo-Roman coins featuring a horse found locally, itself a "proof" that the place was noted for horse-breeding.
The name "Hanin-le-Liétart" was coined in 1274 as a tribute to the good lord Liétard, or, most probably, to differentiate the village from Hénin-sur-Cojeul, located 30 km farther. The Liétard lineage appeared in 950; the good Liétard is thought to be Isaac Liétard, fourth lord of Hénin, who went on the First Crusade and surrounded the town with walls in 1074. Oudart of Bournonville (d. 1585), Governor of Artois and Chief of Finances of the Low Countries, was erected Count of Hénin-Liétard by King Philip II.

Industrial coal extraction started in Hénin on 22 September 1855 with the foundation of the Société des mines de Dourges. Production increased from 17,000 tons in 1856 to 1,440,000 tons in 1913. After the First World War, which caused the destruction of 90% of the town and severely damaged the collieries, production decreased to 59,000 tons in 1920; spared during the Second World War, the collieries, nationalized and incorporated into the Houillères nationales, produced again 1,447,000 tons in 1945. The last shaft was closed in 1970.

Ivan Sache, 7 March 2010

Flag of Hénin-Beaumont

The flag of Hénin-Beaumont, hoisted over the town hall with the European Union and French flag (photo), is white with the municipal arms in the middle.

The arms of Hénin-Beaumont, adopted in 1921 (by the then municipality of Hénin-Liétard), are "Vert on a based arched gules a bay horse proper". The shield, alluding to the spurious, whinning etymology of Hénin, is surmounted by a mural crown recalling lord Liétard, the builder of the town walls.

Ivan Sache, 7 March 2010