The Historical Society of Villeneuve d'Ascq was founded in 1974. It brings together professional and amateur historians who study the local history of the three villages of Ascq, Annappes and Flers, which formed the new town of Villeneuve d'Ascq in 1970. It currently has 60 members. It publishes the Revue du Terroir and publications on specific themes, such as "Annappes,past and present...", or "Origins and development of the new town of Villeneuve d'Ascq". It organises or participates in exhibitions or lectures on local and regional history and works closely with the local museums it has created: the Musée du Terroir and the Ascq 1944 Memorial. It is also a member of the Federation of Historical Societies of Northern France.
Its headquarters are at the Ferme Saint Sauveur, avenue du Bois, where it has its meeting rooms, its archive and its libraries. It is supported by the town of Villeneuve d'Ascq which lends it its premises and subsidises its activities. Traditionally, its annual general meeting takes place at the Musée du Terroir.
In 1999 the Society set up links with the Opladener GeschichtsVerein in Leverkusen, with which it participates in exhibitions and study trips.
The "StadtRäume in der Zwischenkriegzeit" project is a continuation of our work on the First World War with the OGV and our European partners. The aim is to deepen each partner’s knowledge of the culture of the others and to convey this knowledge to citizens of each partner country through publications, lectures, and finish with a film with several voices. Working together on the 1918-1939 period is a way of rereading our shared history: the period after the Great War. This was a time which marked the beginning of the "suicide of Europe" and increasing perils. Democracies were unable to prevent the rise of dictatorships and, above all, were not able to fight effectively against the tenets of fascism and Nazism.
Villeneuve-d'Ascq, east of Lille, about ten kilometres from the Belgian border, is located in the North of France, in the Hauts-de-France region and the Nord department. With 63,400 inhabitants, it is the fourth most populous city in the Lille-Roubaix-Tourcoing conurbation, in the greater Lille area.
The new town of Lille-Est was the culmination of government policy in the late 60’s and it was designed to provide an urban framework for universities and to welcome the population into the city of Lille. The merger of the villages of Annappes, Ascq and Flers-lez-Lille on 25 February 1970 turned it into a town in its own right: Villeneuve d'Ascq. The name Ascq was kept in memory of the Ascq massacre which cost the lives of 86 civilians on 1 April 1944.
Located in the heart of a Franco-Belgian metropolis of nearly 1.9 million inhabitants, it is served by a large public transport network (underground, bus, tramway, TER (regional trains)) and by a motorway junction linking it to Paris, Brussels, Ghent and Dunkirk. The town has a young population and is the leading university town in the region with 50,000 students. Today, it is active in sustainable development, helping it to face the social, economic and environmental challenges of the 21st century. Its many green spaces offer a quality environment for its inhabitants and businesses.
Various multinationals (Bonduelle, Cofidis, Decathlon) have chosen to base their headquarters here. The town is home to universities, grandes écoles and numerous research laboratories. It is also where the world's first automatic driverless metro (the VAL: Véhicule Automatique Léger), was invented on site at the Lille University of Science and Technology.
Villeneuve d'Ascq, a city on the move, offers a setting that is both urban and green with its lakes (70 ha) and its parks (the urban park covers 45 ha, Parc du Héron 110 ha). Villeneuve d'Ascq is recognised as the "green technology park" of the greater Lille area (MEL), reflected in its logo.
Villeneuve-d'Ascq is also known for its sporting events - several of the town's teams play in the sporting elite and it has two major stadiums (the 20,000-seat Stadium Lille Métropole and the 50,000-seat modular Stade Pierre-Mauroy). These stadiums enable it to host major sporting events such as the Euro Football Championship, the Davis Cup, the Euro Basketball Championship, the World Handball Championship and the World Volleyball Championship. Other sites are worth a visit: its museums, the best known of which is the Lille Metropole Museum of Modern Art, Contemporary Art and Art Brut (LaM), its large green spaces (6 lakes, 200 hectares of unspoilt areas) and its infrastructure adapted to the needs of the disabled.
Other places of interest in the region include: in Lille, the Musée des Beaux-Arts and the Maison Natale de Charles de Gaulle, in Roubaix, the Musée de La Piscine and the Villa Cavrois, in Lens, the Louvres-Lens, the listed sites of the slag heaps of Noeux-les-Mines and the historic mining centre of Lewarde, and the places of remembrance of the First World War: Vimy, Lorette and Ypres. There are also many remarkable sites of natural beauty, such as the Monts des Flandres, le grand site des Deux-Caps and le Bocage en Avesnois.
Ascq, Annappes and Flers, merged in 1970 to become Villeneuve d'Ascq (28 km2), and are part of the Lille-Roubaix-Tourcoing conurbation (700,000 inhabitants in 1920). It is a region associated with the textile industry.
In mid-October 1918, the villages were liberated. The people cheered their English and Portuguese liberators and the men returning from the war. In 1920, a war memorial was erected in each village.
From 1918 to 1923, it was first necessary to repair the war damage to roads, factories and houses. Then the villages began to modernise. People had access to drinking water and then electricity and the richest families had a radio. But few people had cars. In addition to their usual activities, local cafés became he headquarters of the football team or the cycling team.
The three towns are located 6 km from Lille and Roubaix and 10 km from Belgium. Most of the land is given over to growing cereals and the wetter areas are used for dairy farming. The towns are connected to the Scheldt and Deûle/Lys waterways through the river Marque being turned into a canal.
The people of Flers worked in the cotton mills of Lille-Fives or Hellemmes. Those from Le Breucq, north of Flers, worked in the factories in Roubaix, which was formerly the centre of the wool industry in France.
Le Breucq also had its own dye and textile factories. It was more densely populated than the former centre of Flers-Bourg. The Roubaix canal running from the Deûle to Flers-Breucq facilitated the growth of industry. Two tramway lines ran from Lille and served Flers-Breucq towards Roubaix and Flers-Bourg towards the county town of Lannoy. Since 1911, a new "Grand Boulevard" linked Lille to Roubaix and Tourcoing. A new fast tramway, the Mongy, served Flers-Breucq. Flers was already the most urbanised town. In 1921, it had 4,904 inhabitants, increasing to 7,265 in 1936. In Flers-Bourg, the population was a mixture of farmers, agricultural workers and factory workers. In Le Breucq, factory workers were the majority. It was here that the first section of the Workers' Party was founded.
Annappes was more rural, with farms producing wheat, beetroot, potatoes and flax. A large landowner, the Count of Montalembert, lived there until 1935. Thanks to the railway station in Annappes, some locals worked in the factories of Fives-Lille or in the railway workshops of Hellemmes. The population of Annappes rose from 3,020 inhabitants in 1921 to 3,350 in 1936, the smallest increase of the three villages.
In Ascq, on the main road leading to the Belgian border, a beet alcohol distillery, an engineering factory and mills were built. Ascq had a station on the Lille-Brussels railway line at the intersection of another line to Roubaix-Tourcoing. This explains the presence of various industries in the village. Ascq had a post office and a solicitor’s office. On the edge of the rural area, it had a more heterogeneous population around the Saint Pierre parish and attracted wealthy people who had beautiful properties built there. The population of the village rose from 2,756 in 1921 to 3,282 in 1936.