Le marteau-pilon, Le Creusot.Creusot Hammer Pillon 46 @lesley Williamson Hd Retouche Rvb
©Le marteau-pilon, Le Creusot.|Lesley Williamson

The sledgehammer, Creusot's Eiffel Tower

Power and precision

A monster of power, the power hammer of the Creusot forges was the pride of the factories and workers. It has become the emblem of Le Creusot, and today stands at the entrance to the town.

A legendary machine

The world's most powerful

In 1876, Établissements Schneider built a 100-ton drop hammer.

Installed in the Grande Forge, it was then the most powerful in the world, with its impressive dimensions and payload: 21 meters high and a total weight of 1,300 tons. When it’s in action, the sound can be heard for miles around.

The drop hammer is also a highly precise machine: the worker handling it can delicately re-cork a glass bottle without breaking it, or open a walnut shell without crushing it.

Close-up of a steel colossus

Invented in Le Creusot

The sledgehammer’s ancestor was the martinet, a rocking hammer used by blacksmiths until the beginning of the Industrial Revolution to forge metal.

The principle of the steam-hammer was invented at the same time in Great Britain and France by James Nasmyth (1808-1890), a Scottish inventor, and François Bourdon (1797-1865), engineer and director of the mechanical engineering workshops at Établissements Schneider in Le Creusot. Although the idea for such a machine came to them at the same time, François Bourdon was the first to put it into practice, assembling the first drop-hammer in 1840 and registering a patent in 1841.

François Bourdon needed to forge large parts for the first transatlantic liners. So he developed a vertical hammer driven by steam power. The success of this machine gave the Schneider factories an edge over the competition.

A monument

and quite a symbol

At the beginning of the 20th century, hydraulic presses made their appearance and the days of the sledgehammer were numbered.

Dismantled in the 1930s, the sledgehammer now stands at the southern entrance to Le Creusot, carrefour du 8 Mai 1945. It remains a symbol of the city and of triumphant industry.

It is protected as a historic monument and recognized as a “mechanical engineering heritage site” by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Not to be missed