History_BlackPowderMill

History
Black Powder Factory in Aubonne was born in 1853, five years after the powder regale had been created in a governmental structure. In a political context in full expansion, this birth showed the real desire of the Swiss Government to take charge in cannon powder production, which belonged before to the cantons. In the present circumstances, the New Constitution of 1848 described the advent of a federative state. The cantons renounced to a lot of their prerogatives in advantage of a superior authority, who could guarantee them in exchange for more security. In this way, the Confederation could establish a monopoly in fabrication and sell of black powder as well as a control in military costs.In 1890, the apparition on the market of the pyroxily powder (or without smoke), induced the production fall of black powder. The military needs were well reduced.

In 1996, the suppression of the monopoly on fabrication and trade of black powder obliged the Direction of military federal Department to close Aubonne exploitation. To answer to the market requirements (foreigner powders at competitive prices, new security norms...), it was obligatory to modernise the place. The cost becoming too high: what about the production?

Come back to a private frame...

One year later, the Vaud state bought the factory's property to the Confederation. It was in 1997, just after an evaluation of the place and the production that the factory was rent to a private society.

The trade of black powder became one more time to particular property. In the same time, the powder regale was abolished. From July onwards, the powder trade was free.

Actual situation

The company "Poudrerie d'Aubonne S.A." is managed by a commercial and technical direction and employs seven persons at the production. The best product is the shooting black powder. The users have their own old rifles and manufacture themselves their cartridges. That's why industrial production doesn't exist. This powder is sold in Switzerland, Europe, Australia and USA. The other products (industrial and pyrotechnical powders) are mainly sold in Switzerland.

There are several black powder factories in the world, amongst some of them are situated in Europe (Spain, France, Slovenia, Germany, Slovak Republic, Poland and Switzerland). The yearly Swiss production amounts to 60 tons. In comparison, the European production reaches 2'000/year. On a world-wide scale, "Poudrerie d'Aubonne S.A." is a small factory. What differentiates this place from another is its shooting powder quality, labelled by the competitors as an upmarket product. At La Vaux place, the installations scarcely haven't changed since the beginning of the century, production is still carried on in the same and very unsophisticated way and there is nothing that could indicate an evolution in the near future...