This site, named « Bourg d’En Bas » (town from down low) has, for a long time, been a zone of economic, artisanal, then industrial activity. At the entrance of the viscountal city, since the middle ages, it has welcomed the dirtiest activities such as butchery, or those that require the use of water (tanneries, wool washing…). The creation of mills enabled the development of textile activities that gave the town its reputation.
Located around 50m away from the new Media center, the Médiathèque des gaves (Silver Equerre prize 2010), the Villa of the Region of art and history is situated on the site of an old mill, which was an industrial site : the Bedat sandals factory.
This family business, founded around 1890, was one of the most important factories of the town. Particularly known for its hand-made articles, this family business had over 200 workers at the beginning of the XXth century, before closing in 1968.
It took its power from a derivation of the river Aspe on which, in 1930, is built a hydroelectric center, in the Art Nouveau style, and had three turbines.