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Nœux-les-Mines (Municipality, Pas-de-Calais, France)

Last modified: 2021-01-14 by ivan sache
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Flag of Nœux-les-Mines - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 18 July 2020

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Presentation of Nœux-les-Mines

The municipality of Nœux-les-Mines (11,813 inhabitants in 2018; 884 ha) is located half way (10 km) of Lens and Béthune.

Nœux-les-Mines was first recorded in the 4th century as Vitri. Destroyed in 882 by the Normans, the town was rebuilt in the 10th century ans renamed to Noewe. Originally an agricultural town, Nœux-lez-Béthune was renamed to Nœux-les-Mines in 1887, a few years after the discovery of coal deposits in 1850. From the opening of the first pit in 1851 the town experienced a strong surge in population up until 1962 (from 1,000 to 14,000 inhabitants). All the pits were closed down between 1956 and 1968.
In 1996, the municipality transformed one of its old mine ramps into an artificial ski slope.

Nœux-les-Mines is the birth place of Raymond Kopa (1931-2017), considered as one of the best French footballers ever.
Born as Raymond Kopaszewski in a Polish miner's family that settled in France in 1919, Kopa played for the local club, Union Sportive Nœux-les-Mines, from 1941 to 1949. He signed his first professional license with SCO Angers, shortening his name. In 1951, he was signed by Stade de Reims, and won the French League in 1953 and 1955. Coveted by the biggest European clubs, Kopa signed on 1956 with Real Madrid, which had just defeated Reims in the final of the Champions' League. He won the Spanish League in 1957 and 1958 and the Champions' League three times in a row (1957,1958, 1959). Back to Stade Reims in 1960, he won another two French Leagues in 1960 and 1962.
From 1952 to 1962, Kopa played 45 matches with the French national team. He was elected MVP of the 1958 World Cup, France finishing 3rd.
Kopa was subsequently a fierce defender of the player's rights against the clubs, pushing the establishment of contracts and the foundation of the Union Nationale des Footballeurs Professionnels (UNFP), the player's union, in 1961.

U.S. Nœux-les-Mines, founded in 1909, adopted the professional status from 1976 to 1984, with the Leroy-Merlin group as its main shareholder. Leroy-Merlin, originating in the association of Adolphe Leroy and Rose Merlin, from Billy-Berclaud, in 1923, is a main home improvement and gardening retailer, operating large stores in the outskirts of major town. Leroy-Merlin established its first big store in 1960 in Nœux-les-Mines. Taken over in 1981 by the Mulliez family (Auchan group), Leroy-Merlin was renamed to Adeo in 2007 and left its historic seat at Nœux-les-Mines in 2008.
In 1981, U.S. Nœux-les-Mines was defeated in the Second League play-offs by Toulouse FC (2-0 / 0-5) and could not access the First League. The team's coach was Gérard Houllier (1947-2020), subsequently coach of RC Lens (1982-1985), Paris-Saint-Germain (1985-1988, winner of the First League in 1986), Liverpool FC (1998-2004, winner in 2001 of the FA Cup, the League Cup and the UEFA Cup, in 2003 of the League Cup), and Olympique Lyonnais (2005-2007, winner of the First League in 2006 and 2007). Houllier also coached the French national team in 1992-1993, resigning after the shameful defeats against Israel (2-3) and Bulgaria (1-2), which kicked-off France from the 1994 World Cup.

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 19 September 2020

Flag of Nœux-les-Mines

The flag of Nœux-les-Mines (photo, 2009) is white with the municipal coat of arms and, most probably, the town's name below.

The town has a "medieval" coat of arms, which is not used.
The "modern" coat of arms, allegedly designed by the board of the Compagnie des Mines de Nœux, refers to the mining history of Nœux.
The charges in the center are emblematic miner's tools: picks, sledgehammer, axes, helmet, belt and lamp.
The red curves on a gray background form the non-conventional representation of mine galleries.
The Cross of War (1914-1918), awarded on 25 September 1920 to the town, hangs from the shield's base.
[La Voix du Nord, 8 April 2012]

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 19 September 2020