Prestal: HISTORY BELOW OUR FEET.

Posted on June 24, 2018 by

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Just down the road from Amboise Station, next door to Aldi, is a fine old factory with fine old gates. In the forecourt are fine old machines which, when built, were things of engineering beauty, with age are works of art.

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The factory, a metal frame shed, was designed by none other than Gustave Eiffel of Tower and Statue of Liberty fame as an airship hangar for the Paris Exhibition of 1900. Long before IKEA, Eiffel was designing flat packs using nuts and bolts. Some of the bridges he designed were assembled in situ in countries all over the world.

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After the Exhibition, an engineer from Amboise, Georges Louis Mabille, bought the hangar and dismantled it. He sent the parts by train to Amboise and reassembled the hangar here to open a workshop with his cousin Albert to make metal frames using Mabille Presses. He died in 1927 but manufacturing continued until the outbreak of war in 1939.

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Georges Louis and Albert were family members of Maison Mabille d’Amboise founded by Jacques Mabille, a locksmith, in 1835. The Company manufactured oil, apple and grape presses, harvesting machines, hydraulic presses, gear systems and iron screws. By 1875, the company had 175 employees. Jacques, who had a factory in Amboise and a retail shop opposite Château Amboise, developed The Mabille System. Patented under the name of Universal Press, it was famous all over the world for almost a hundred years until the outbreak of war in 1939.

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A plaque on the wall of the factory (roughly translated) says:
‘A page in the history of the French automobile was written in this factory where, from 1954 to 1965, the Facel Vega was created by Jean Daninos who bought this business in 1939’.