Portrait room at the Musée de l'Homme et de l'Industrie, Le Creusot
©Portrait room at the Musée de l'Homme et de l'Industrie, Le Creusot|Lesley Williamson

The Schneider family

A dynasty of industrialists

The development of Le Creusot and its factories is inextricably linked to the history of the ironmasters who left their mark on the town.

Pittsburg, in the United States, was home to Andrew Carnegie, and the Ruhr, in Germany, to the Thyssen and Krupp families. As for Le Creusot, its destiny has long been linked to that of the Schneider family.

Birth of a dynasty

In 1836, the bankrupt Le Creusot forge was bought by Adolphe and Eugène Schneider, two young businessmen from a Lorraine family. The burgeoning railroads offered the metallurgy sector definite growth potential. Thanks to their connections and business acumen, the Schneider brothers were able to provide the impetus to get their factories off the ground. Four generations of master forgers followed in their footsteps until 1960.

When Adolphe died in an accident in 1845, Eugène took over sole control of the company. In addition to his successful business career, he pursued a political career at local and national level, becoming successively General Councillor, Member of Parliament, Minister and then President of the Legislative Body. He was succeeded in 1875 by his son Henri, followed by his grandson Eugène II in 1898 and his great-grandson Charles in 1942.

Four generations of blacksmiths

Portrait gallery
Eugène I Schneider1805-1875
Henri Schneider1840-1898
Eugène II Schneider1868-1942
Charles Schneider1898-1960

A family with a paternalistic streak

While innovating and diversifying production (steel, armaments, then electricity and civil nuclear power), each generation contributed to the expansion of both the factories and the town. The Schneiders implemented a paternalistic policy, building housing, schools and hospitals. They shaped the city and at the same time governed its economic and social life. The development of the factories ensured Le Creusot’s renown in France and abroad, with a steady stream of visits from customers and heads of state.

Even today, Le Creusot retains strong memories of the Schneider family. Scattered throughout the town, statues immortalize each of the forge masters, while streets and working-class housing estates bear the names of the family’s children who tragically passed away, like the boulevard Henri-Paul Schneider or the cité Jean et Françoise Schneider.

Strolling through the streets of Le Creusot is like immersing yourself in this industrial epic.


in the footsteps of the Schneiders

Cristallerie Royale in three key dates


The Fonderie Royale is founded at Le Creusot. At the time, the fashion for lead crystal was arriving straight from England and seducing the French aristocratic courts.


The Cristallerie experienced its first difficulties, and was eventually sold by its owners.


Eugène Schneider decides to make the crystal works his home in Le Creusot. He gave the building a second life, transforming it from a crystal glassworks into a prestigious residence.

Not to be missed