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Henri-Lloyd - For the Obsessed

La Mora site: laying the foundation stone on the East Pier

by La Mora - Guillaume le Conquérant 20 Sep 2022 10:20 UTC
La Mora site: laying the foundation stone on the East Pier © Patrick Deroualle

Friday heralded the start of rehabilitation work on the site, which is set to host the show space connected to the reconstruction of La Mora, William the Conqueror's flagship.

Located on the East Pier (Jetée Est), opposite the old basin in Honfleur, it is due to open to the public in the autumn of 2023 after a year of work.

The extensive work, which will lead to the reconstruction of La Mora, the flagship aboard which William the Conqueror crossed the English Channel in September 1066, is entering its implementation phase. Four years on from the official creation of the La Mora - Guillaume le Conquérant association, the work required to restore the East Pier site kicked off this Friday with the laying of the foundation stone. In order to meet the objective of opening elements of the site to the public in the autumn of 2023, the buildings which will house the scenographic space, the boatyard, the public reception area and the bookshop will take priority. The renovation of the administrative building, the Maison des Apprentis apprentice space, and the associated workshops around the boatyard will take place in a second phase.

Local companies and a respect for materials

Designed by the firm SE7 Architecture based in Honfleur, the project has obtained the approval of the Architecte des Bâtiments de France (ABF - Architect of French Buildings). Particular care will be given to the choice of materials, with a deep respect for these beautifully crafted buildings in the industrial-port style of the late 19th - early 20th century. The building housing the scenographic space, in particular, will be extended with two additional wings with brick facing and an elevation with a wooden framework, increasing its total surface area to 500 m2.

The work will be carried out by a group of local Norman businesses selected for their professional references. Led by the company Coopérative métropolitaine d'entreprise générale (CMEG - Metropolitan cooperative for general contractors) in Bretteville-L'Orgueilleuse (14), the group brings together the companies Celfy from Cormelles-le-Royal (14), Ceme Guérin from Saint-Lô (50) and CPL Bois from Bayeux (14).

Promoting integration and training in the world of work

Throughout the reconstruction work associated with William the Conqueror's ship, the La Mora - Guillaume le Conquérant association has set itself the task of promoting integration and training in the world of work. In this way, the companies involved in the project are subject to a social clause and must fulfil this brief for a set number of hours.

For its part, the association has formed a partnership with the IME in Lisieux, which is a special school for physically or mentally handicapped children. As such, the operation to clear the site, which began on Monday 12 September and will run for a fortnight, includes a workforce of 7 people with mental handicaps and 2 supervisors. All those involved are being accommodated at a boarding school in Honfleur. With regard to the forge building, currently on the scenographic site, this will be dismantled and then reassembled on the boatyard site by apprentices from professional colleges in Lisieux and Honfleur within the scope of a partnership with the Apprentis d'Auteuil foundation, which has been training and educating youngsters in difficulty for over 150 years. Finally, the cocktail gathering hosted this Friday to celebrate the laying of the foundation stone was prepared by the latter foundation's college in Lisieux.


Oliver Pagezy, president of the La Mora - Guillaume le Conquérant association: "The laying of this foundation stone is the concrete expression of a project initiated by the late Alain Bourdeaux, which inspires those well beyond the circle of maritime history enthusiasts. It's the culmination of careful work and a fruitful dialogue with all our stakeholders to design the project, seek funding, obtain authorisation and select the companies to be involved. We are delighted to be on track with the mission we set ourselves and I'd like to express my heartfelt thanks to our public and private partners, including the Calvados department, which has made available to us what is a truly outstanding site within the Town of Honfleur. It's also the start of a whole new adventure with the preparation of a boatyard before the public gaze with the aim of building a boat steeped in history, which is intended to sail. We now wish to open our community project up to all those wishing to support it, because this project launched by a few must become a major unifying project for the whole of Normandy."

Michel Lamarre, Mayor of Honfleur and President of the Communauté de communes du Pays de Honfleur-Beuzeville: "The laying of this foundation stone is historic and important. It will have a great many consequences in terms of heritage, history and tourism... not only for Honfleur, but also for the Normandy Region and the Calvados Department. Today heralds the start of the rehabilitation of a space, which has been uninhabited for years and is one of the most strategic and beautiful places in Honfleur, the Pier."

Jean-Léonce Dupont, President of the Calvados Department: "The Journées du patrimoine*, which we're celebrating this weekend, could not shine a more powerful spotlight on Honfleur and this jewel of our heritage. Thanks to Alain Bourdeaux and all those who have supported him, we boast a project which has high hopes for the whole of Normandy. Honfleur, which has the pleasure of welcoming over 5-million visitors a year, will be the perfect place to host this project."

Sophie Gaugain, 1st Vice President of the Normandy Region: "At a time when we are on a quest to hand valued elements down to future generations all over the world, there are certain values that need to be grasped with both hands and whose success is down to everyone collectively. Here, on Honfleur's East Pier, craftsmanship is being handed down in an incredibly intelligent way, promoting trades and sharing skills with the young generations in Honfleur, Normandy and France. Long live this project!"

Christophe Blanchet, Member of Parliament for the Calvados, 4th constituency: "We're witnessing here a story of Men who have persuaded partners and authorities, Men who have battled to realise this ambitious project. Today, we have the massive task of explaining William the Conqueror to everyone, of explaining this Norman story."

Thierry Mosimann, Prefect of the Calvados: "We're all gathered here today to lay this foundation stone thanks to Alain Bourdeaux, founder of the La Mora - Guillaume le Conquérant association. The social ambition of this project, which aims to shine a spotlight on the professions and trades associated with the sea and welcome apprentices to this region in connection with local professional colleges, is extremely powerful. La Mora is synonymous with our ambitions for the region and for the inhabitants of Honfleur."

*A cultural event held annually in France where state properties are opened to the public

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