Cortaillod. Photo/Foto: TES.

The world-famous industries of Cortaillod

The region of  Cortaillod (canton of Vaud) has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The oak stilts that appeared when the lake level was lowered due to the first correction of the Jura waters (1869-1891) are evidence of the pile dwellings of the Neolithic and Bronze Ages.

The village of Cortaillod (from the Latin ‘Curtile’ or ‘Cortillum’: small garden adjoining a farm) was founded by the inhabitants of Boudry (now the canton of Neuchâtel) in the Middle Ages. The village fell under three successive lordships: of Gorgier, of the priory of Bevaix and of the county of Neuchâtel.

In 1503, the village’s inhabitants obtained permission from the bishop of Lausanne, Aimon de Montfaucon (1443-1517), to build the Saint Nicolas chapel. In the 16th century, under the Confederation’s domination (1512-1529), the commune obtained permission to build a mill on the Vivier.

Claude Abram DuPasquier (1717-1783) and Jacques-Louis Pourtalès (1722-1814) founded and developed the painted cloth industry ‘indiennes’ in the 18th century. This technique was a great success, and the fame spread throughout Europe.

The Fabrique-Neuve in Cortaillod was one of its field’s first and largest companies. At the end of the century, its production reached 45,000 pieces and employed more than 700 workers.

The continental blockade, established by the French decree of 21 November 1806 (Napoleon closed the ports of the European continent to trade with England) and the law prohibiting the entry of printed cloth into the French Empire (1852-1870) accelerated the decline of this industry.

From 1879, the Société d’Exploitation des Câbles Électriques, Berthoud-Borel system (later Alcatel Cable and today Nexans) became the main industry, and its products made Cortaillod known in many countries of the world.

(Source and more information: