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Dour (Municipality, Province of Hainaut, Belgium)

Last modified: 2015-07-28 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Dour]

Municipal flag of Dour - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 16 January 2006

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Presentation of Dour and its villages

The municipality of Dour (16,882 inhabitants on 1 January 2007 - Dourois; 3,331 ha) is located in the former coal-mining basin of Borinage, close to the border with France, 10 km north of Bavay. The municipality of Dour is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Dour (9,329 inh.), Blaugies (1,495 inh.), Élouges (3,656 inh.) and Wihéries (2,220 inh.).

Dour is located on a height; it was known in the Gallo-Roman times as Durnum, probably a short form for Durodunum, "a dry hill". Dour constituted until the XIIth century a single domain with the neighbouring villages of Thulin and Hainin. In 1155, lord Guillaume, about to die in England, ceded half of the village to the abbey of Saint-Ghislain; the message was forwarded to the abbey by King Edward. The second half of the village was successively owned by the families of Dour, Trazegnies, Leprince, Pottier and Poisson, and eventually purchased in 1784 by Baron de Royer. The members of the Royer family are buried in the chapel of Cocars, located in Élouges.
Coal extraction started in Dour in the XIIIth century. In 1732, the abbey of Saint-Ghislain granted to the lord of Dour the exploitation of all the collieries but those located in the wood of Saint-Ghislain. Fourty years later, the building of the road between Dour and Boussu increased the exchanges with the other places in Borinage. Industrial exploitation of the coal mines started in the XVII-XVIIIth century. Several shafts were closed in the 1880s and between the two World Wars. The last two active shafts, the Grande Machine à Feu and Sainte-Catherine, were closed in 1954 and 1961, respectively.

Blaugies is either the ancient Blidegarus ("Bliau's estate") or Bladawaldacias ("the source in the blue country"). The current written form of the name of the village was fixed in the XVIIIth century. The village was shared between the abbey of Saint-Ghislain and a local feudal family. In the XIIth century, it was incorporated to the County of Boussu following the marriage of the heiress of Blaugies with a lord of Boussu from the Hénin-Liétard family. The chapel Notre-Dame de la Paix, built before 1702 on the border of Blaugies and Petit-Dour, is a popular place of pilgrimage. Blaugies was mostly a rural village with an important forest (70 ha), which is the southern extension of the forest of Colfontaine.

Élouges might have been built on the site of a former temple dedicated to the Goddess Ceres, aka Eleusine, today known as Mont d'Élouges. Roman medals and coins have been found there, but no evidence of any building. Others say that Élouges, being located near the confluency of two rivers, was named after the Celtic words ell ("shock") and lug ("river"); however, the confluency is located quite far from the village. A third hypothesis relates the Latin forms Elogia (1118) and Eslogesi (1213) to the Teutonic loodse ("a lodge") and an alleged Roman villa. The village was ran by two families, Castellois in Montceau, until the XIVth century, and Élouges, which later settled in the Benidictine abbey of Hautmont. Until the French Revolution, Élouges was the seat of a Provostship ruling 27 villages detached from the Provostship of Mons. There was a strong rivalry between Élouges-Centre (aka Élouges-au-Val) and Élouges-Monceau (aka Élouges-au-Mont); for instance, the inhabitants of Monceau required in the XVIIIth century the upgrading of their chapel into a parish church, which was granted only in 1842.
Coal mining developed in Élouges in the XVIIIth century, with some twenty shafts. Chalk stone extraction started in the XIXth century, with some sixty quarries.

Wihéries was known as Gathiride (1118), Guilleries (1119), Wileries (1181), Waherioe (1184) and then Wéheries. The roots gath, wah or wil are probably the short form of an anthroponym (Guilain?); they might also allude to vineyards, willows or pastures. In 805, Abbot Eléphas, a relative of Charlemagne, ceded the village to the abbey of Saint-Ghislain. In the XIIIth century, the Abbot of Saint-Ghislain bore the title of Prince de Wihéries. The Chart-Law signed on 6 November 1410 made of Wihéries a municipality.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 16 January 2006

Municipal flag of Dour

The municipal flag of Dour is vertically divided yellow-blue-yellow.
The flag follows the proposal made by the Heraldry and Vexillology Council of the French Community, described in Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones as:
Trois laizes longitudinales jaune, bleue, et jaune.
The flag is based on the municipal coat of arms of Dour:
D'or à la fasce d'azur, chargé en abîme d'un écusson de sinople au lion d'or, le champ semé de billettes d'argent.

The municipal website adds that the Municipal Council applied on 16 March 1911 for the arms of the family Pottier, which were granted by Royal Decree on 16 March 1914. The Council claimed that the municipality of Dour had been allowed to use these arms in the past.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 16 January 2006