200 years of history

®Guy Focant

It all began in 1817, when John Cockerill bought the Seraing château from William of Orange. At that time the business, which would later become the economic flagship of the region, was already designing and manufacturing technical equipment such as steam engines, steelmaking equipment, cannons and locomotives. Then, progressively, steel production became the primary activity of the Cockerill facilities.

When Bernard Serin bought CMI in 2002, the company left the steel industry definitively. Under his impetus, the original activity of industrial equipment manufacturing became the core business once again. The Group expanded its technological portfolio, developed its service activities, and expanded around the world, mainly through acquisitions. In 2004 the name was adapted; CMI no longer signified Cockerill Mechanical Industries, but Cockerill Maintenance & Ingénierie. A name that proudly kept the reference to its illustrious founder, John Cockerill. On May 16, 2019, CMI becomes John Cockerill again, like the visionary and bold entrepreneur. With this name change, the Group is reconnecting to its roots and building its future, more than ever inspired by the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of its founder.

Key dates


John Cockerill buys the Château of Seraing.


Construction of the first coke oven.


Ignition of the region's first coke blast furnace.


Gun carriage manufacture.


Construction of the first steamboat at the Antwerp shipyard.


Construction of the first steam locomotive on the European continent, the "Le Belge", which will run on the first passenger railway line on the European continent: the Brussels-Mechelen line.


John Cockerill dies in Warsaw, returning from a trip to Russia to prospect new markets.


Creation of the first public limited company: Etablissements John Cockerill.


Construction of Seraing's first suspension bridge, the first iron bridge in the region, enabling workers to get to work by means other than boats.


Construction of the first transatlantic vessel.


The steel mills are the first in Europe to be equipped with the Bessemer process, which improves steel quality and production on a very large scale.


Construction of steamers in Hoboken for Stanley's exploration of the Congo River.


Inauguration of the hydraulic elevator at Houdeng-Goegnies.


Expansion in China and construction of steelworks, bridges and the first major Peking-Hankou railroad (1904).


Belgium is the world's second-largest economy.


Liège World Fair. Cockerill is an innovator in many fields.

1914 – 1918

The facilities are destroyed during the First World War. Fire in the Château's south wing.


Cockerill celebrates its 110th anniversary, with a visit and a speech by King Albert 1st that led to the creation of the FNRS.


Building the "Prince Baudouin" trunk: the fastest diesel-powered ship of its time.


Building the T12: the legendary steam locomotive.


2nd World War.


Cockerill develops the market for power plants and nuclear power stations.


From merger to merger, the company's center of gravity shifted from mechanical engineering to the steel industry. However, the equipment supplier business continues to develop alongside this new core business, thanks to a method that is as effective today as ever: technology watch, licensing and process improvement.


Cockerill's Mechanical Construction Division becomes a subsidiary of steelmaker Cockerill Sambre and is renamed Cockerill Mechanical Industries (CMI).


CMI has also positioned itself in maintenance and services, becoming a complete specialist in industrial equipment.


Usinor, shareholder in the Walloon steel company Cockerill Sambre, sells CMI to an independent private shareholder, who still owns the Group today.


Expansion in China and Brazil.


Cockerill Mechanical Industries becomes Cockerill Maintenance & Ingénierie. This name change underlines CMI's determination to exploit synergies between its two core businesses, engineering and maintenance. CMI also expands into the United States and Germany.


CMI expands in Russia.


CMI sets up in India. The Group is now able to supply complexes for the cold steel industry.


Drawing on the diversity of its activities, CMI develops solutions to reduce the environmental footprint of industrial activity.


MI develops an on-board simulator for training troops in the use of military equipment, and enters the field of industrial effluent treatment.


CMI markets its first boiler for thermo-solar power plants.


CMI sets up in Africa (Morocco and Congo) and New Caledonia.


CMI Defence becomes an industrial leader in land defense.


After 4 years of diversifying into environmental solutions, CMI turns them into a full-fledged business line.


Celebration of Cockerill's bicentenary and acquisition of Transurb from SNCB, a rail solutions provider. Creation of the John Cockerill Foundation to mark the bicentenary.


CMI inaugurates MiRIS, the largest industrial green energy storage station in Europe. The same year, Jean-Luc Maurange is appointed as the new CEO.


CMI (re)becomes John Cockerill and at the same time starts up the first molten-salt solar power plant in Haixi (China) to produce solar-generated electricity 24 hours a day.


Launch of Industrya, an investment fund with LRM, Noshaq, SPFI and SRIW.


Start of construction of European electrolyser gigafactory at Aspach (Alsace).


Appointment of new CEO, François Michel. Integration of cooling technologies through acquisition of Groupe Hamon. John Cockerill enters new markets: Vietnam, South Korea and Indonesia.