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St Nazaire

ST NAZAIRE, a town of western France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Loire-Inferieure, 40 m. W.N.W. of Nantes by rail and 29 m. by river. Pop. (1906), 30,345. St Nazaire, situated on the right bank of the Loire at its mouth, is a modern town with straight thoroughfares crossing one another at right angles. It possesses nothing of antiquarian interest except a granite dolmen 10 ft. long and 5 ft. wide resting horizontally on two other stones sunk in the soil, above which they rise 6| ft. The only noteworthy building is a modern church in the Gothic style of the 14th century. The harbour, which constitutes the outport of Nantes and is accessible to ships of the largest size, is separated from the estuary by a narrow strip of land, and comprises an outer harbour and entrance, two floating docks (the old dock and the Penhouet dock), three graving docks, and the extensive shipbuilding yards of the Loire Company and of the General Transatlantic Company whose steamers connect St Nazaire with Mexico, the Antilles and the Isthmus of Panama. Ships for the navy and the mercantile marine are built, and there are important steel-works, blastfurnaces, forges, and steam saw-mills. The town is the seat of a sub-prefect, and has a tribunal of first instance, a board of tradearbitration, an exchange, a chamber of commerce, a communal college, and schools of navigation and industry. Next to British and French, Spanish, Norwegian and Swedish vessels most frequent the port. In the decade 1898-1907 the value of imports greatly fluctuated, being highest in 1898 (2,800,000) and lowest in 1904 (1,688,000), the average for each of the ten years being 2,280,000. The value of the exports in the same period varied between 3,724,000 in 1899 and 1,396,000 in 1906, the average being 2,935,200. Imports include coal and patent fuel, iron ore and pyrites, timber, rice and hemp; exports include iron ore, coal and patent fuel, pit wood, sugar, garments and woven goods, preserved fish, and wine and spirits.

According to remains discovered on excavating the docks, St Nazaire seems to occupy the site of the ancient Corbilo, placed by Strabo among the more important maritime towns of Gaul. At the close of the 4th century the site of Corbilo was occupied by Saxons, and, their conversion to Christianity being effected one or two hundred years later by St Felix of Nantes, the place took the name of St Nazaire. It was still only a little " bourg " of some 3000 inhabitants when under the second empire it was chosen as the site of the new harbour for Nantes, because the ascent of the Loire was becoming more and more difficult. In 1868 the sub-prefecture was transferred to St Nazaire from Savenay.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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