19th century, Raffinerie Tirlemontoise sees the day
Before 1836, the importance of Olivier de Serres and Napoleon
In the 14th century, large volumes of sugar cane are imported via the flourishing port of Bruges. Antwerp succeeds Bruges in this function in the 15th century. In around 1550 the city has 15 refineries, the majority located on what is still called the “Suikerrui”. In 1575, Olivier de Serres discovers that sugar beets contain a juice that resembles sugar syrup. However, nobody pays attention to it.
An important moment in the Belgian history of sugar is 1806: one year after his defeat in the Battle of Trafalgar, Napoleon sets up a continental blockade against the British. This decision has serious consequences for the port of Antwerp and the import of sugar cane.
1836, Raffinerie Tirlemontoise sees the day
On 16 May 1836 the town of Tirlemont receives requests for permits to build two new sugar factories. One from Joseph Vandenberghe de Binckom, his factory later becomes Raffinerie Tirlemontoise, and one from Henry Vinckenbosch. The total number of sugar factories in Belgium including these two sugar factories amounts to 36. By 1843, a combined total of 3 million kilos of sugar is produced per year.
In 1849, Joseph Vandenberghe de Binckom sells his sugar factory to Henry Vinckenbosch for the astronomic sum of 125,000 Belgian francs. The following years, different sugar factories are started up: Genappe, Wanze and Oostkamp.
On 17 September 1887 Raffinerie Tirlemontoise becomes a limited company and, in 1894, Paul and Franz Wittouck, the owners of the sugar factory in Wanze, purchase Raffinerie Tirlemontoise from the Vinckenbosch family.
20th century, innovations and investments