The CMI Group celebrates its Bicentennial and welcomes His Majesty the King

May 12th 2017

CMI (Cockerill Maintenance et Ingénierie) is celebrating its 200 years of existence this year. On Thursday May 11th, the Group received a visit from King Philippe of the Belgians at its Headquarters in Seraing. This celebration coincides with the completion of the renovation works on the Cockerill Chateau. CMI also welcomed 500 prestige guests from Belgium, France and other countries in which the Group has a presence. The event was marked by a ‘son et lumière’ spectacle, a prelude to a major exhibition to be inaugurated at the Boverie Museum (Liège) on June 2nd.

2017 marks the bicentennial of the arrival of John Cockerill in Seraing and thus the beginning of an exceptional adventure which is still continuing today through the activities of CMI.

Located in the Cockerill Chateau and representative of the trade of John Cockerill as an equipment supplier, the Group is celebrating its 200 years with a program involving both internal and external events. 

The visit from King Philippe coincides with the completion of the renovation works on the Cockerill Chateau. The summer residence of the Bishop-Princes of Liège in the 14th century, the Seraing Chateau has seen different uses over the course of time.

Since it was sold to John Cockerill by William of Orange in 1817, it has been at the heart of the activities of Cockerill. Listed as a historical monument, it has benefitted from a restoration carried out in collaboration with the Walloon Heritage Institute. This restoration was carried out with a dual objective: to restore the old architectural elements while optimizing the space necessary for the activities of the HQ of CMI. The Château is in fact located in a much wider complex which includes the park – itself re-laid out – along with the Orangerie, the CMI Group headquarters constructed in 2013. 

The complex accommodates almost 600 persons, in a modern working environment boasting numerous facilities: an auditorium, meeting and reception rooms, flexible work areas. This extension enables the activities of the Group to continue over the long term, along with confirming its roots in Wallonia, while preserving the exceptional character of this place touched by history.

Bernard Serin, Chairman and Managing director of CMI : “From John Cockerill to CMI, this is a fine story! When he located in the Seraing Chateau in 1817, John Cockerill probably didn’t imagine what an incredible adventure he was setting in motion. A pioneer of the mastery of steam, he founded the Cockerill company, and through this laid the bases of the industrial revolution in Europe. 200 years later, I am happy and proud to welcome His Majesty the King to the Cockerill Chateau, so magnificently restored.

This bicentennial enables us to pay homage to those who went before us. The enterprise has traversed the times and crises. It has always been able to reinvent itself by supplying the responses to the preoccupations of each era. Being one of the most recent inheritors of John Cockerill brings with it the responsibility of passing on this industrial heritage. We share the celebrations of the bicentennial with local bodies, with our clients and, of course, with the CMI community”.

On the occasion of this bicentennial, the CMI Group has established a private foundation, the John Cockerill Foundation. Its mission is to highlight the material and immaterial heritage which has resulted from the exceptional Cockerill adventure. A book ‘The Cockerill Château at Seraing – Witness to a 200 Year Industrial Adventure’, co-edited by the Walloon Heritage Foundation and Institute, came off the press on May 11th. A major exhibition ‘John Cockerill, 200 years of future’, will be open from June 2nd to September 17th at the Boverie Museum (Liège). A genuine voyage through time, it looks back at 200 years of industrial history in Liège, from the arrival of John Cockerill right up to contemporary innovations.