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Bois du Cazier Mine at Marcinelle
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Caution! All the described sites are private properties or belong to regulated public domains (natural reserves, forests…). An authorization preliminary to any visit or excavation is of course absolutely mandatory.

Coordinates

Bois du Cazier : 50.38094N , 4.443283

Musée de l'industrie - Bois du Cazier : 31 U 602696 5582070


Description - Geology
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We visited for you...(13/08/2006)

After the festivals anniversary of the catastrophe which gave to the apron the coal mining of Bois of Cazier, and in which I did not take part (it is true that I am agoraphobic, even sociopathe...), we visited this memorial of the greatest mining catastrophe of Belgium. It is located at Marcinelle, in the South of Charleroi.

History :

The well St-Charles of SA of Charbonnages of Bois of Cazier is born in 1822, under the Dutch regime. It was a concession of more than 875 ha, under Marcinelle, Couillet, Loverval and Gerpinnes.
In 1955, its production rises with 171 kt/y for a manpower of 779 miners.
At the time, Italy exchanges labour for coal. In 1956, 47 000 Italians work in the mines of Belgium, constituting alone more than 30% of the miners of the country and more than 50% of those of the area of Charleroi.
August 8th, 1956, at 8h10 am, following a wrong movement, a fire is declared at the level -975m, then invaded all the mine.
262 men of 12 various nationalities (including 136 Italians, 95 Belgians, 8 Poles, 6 Greeks, 5 Germans, 3 Hungarians, 3 Algerians, 2 French, 1 English, 1 Dutchman, 1 Russian and 1 Ukrainian) lose life in this mining catastrophe, the most fatal that Belgium has known.
"Tutti cadaveri"(only corpses): they are the words of the rescuer Angelo Berto, not being able to contain its sorrow when on August 23, one finally arrives at the level 1035m. "Allen dood" (all dead) will add a Flemish rescuer... On 275 miners brought down in the pit this morning, only 13 will be saved.
The drama had a considerable impact in particular for the Italian community: often, the Calabrian miners were engaged by whole villages and the widows were thus numerous in the South of Italy.
It will result in the stop of Italian immigration towards Belgium and a more strict safety regulation at the Belgian level as well as at the European level. For the first time, this very mediatized catastrophe opened the eyes of the Belgian population on the living conditions of the Italian immigrants, literally parked at the foot of the spoil heaps, in barracks inherited of the Second World War.


The famous grids …

( NB: fifty years before, on March 10th, 1906, a greater catastrophe still took place in Courrières in France . With officially 1099 deads, it is the most important mining catastrophe of Europe)


The monument to the victims


Handing-over with locos and sculpture "the belly of the earth"

The production restarted before the complete closing eleven years later, in 1967.


ads …

Today, property of the Région Wallonne and managed by the asbl "Bois of Cazier", the old coal mining, is a "major " cultural site of the country of Charleroi.

Visit :

Do not expect to visit a mine, it is rather a memorial, a museum moreover on the industrial activity and mining of our poor Wallonia...
There is well a gallery of reconstituted mine but it was closed at the time of our visit, like already abandoned....
The surface installations, which form the square of the mine, make it possible to include/understand the operation of a coal mining and to follow, step by step, the traces of the miners who worked there. An historical evocation of the functions of the buildings is recalled along a didactic course in four languages (F, NL, I, GB).
Dating from the beginning of last century, the architectural unit, classified in 1990, accounts three parallel sets of buildings posting proudly their pediment.

Two pithead gears dominate the site. Unfortunately, climbing is not allowed... Alas !

Only the level of the receipt is accessible.

The winding engine house with the system of descent of the cages is perhaps the only interesting part.

There is also a museum of industry, more of the compressors and engines ACEC than mining industry and another of glass, closed for the moment (removal).


ACEC motor


What remains of the "room of hungs"...


The showers …


The lamp distribution …

If you have time, take pains (but only at the end of the course because the re-entry on the site is not allowed…) to climb on the wooded spoil heaps which surrounds the site.

The square of the mine is indeed surrounded by 26 ha of woods distributed around three spoil heaps.

The first, the oldest, is a flat spoil heap, easy accessible from where you will discover under a new angle the square of coal mining.
The second, on which an open-air theatre is based, is accessible by the memory footpath planted with trees coming from the countries of origin of the victims of the tragedy.
To join the third spoil heap, the highest, of conical form, follow an astonishing modern wooden and metal footbridge.
At the top, observatory of the landscape, at nearly 250 meters of altitude, you will enjoy the view on a part of Charleroi and the area... by good weather, that goes without saying.

Marc Jauniaux

References :

Their site :  http://www.leboisducazier.be/
The very detailed book from the technical point of view of the catastrophe:
Drink rack - the history of a symbol of Michel N and Poliart P.-p., July 2006, Impr. Daune.
The DVD, because nobody reads anymore , with images and reports of the time: Bois du Cazier, the images of a tragedy.


see also (internal links)
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Id
Link
Remark

Aerial Views
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click on pictures to enlarge.
© Pictures : MJX, except otherwise specified.


Panoramic Views
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click on pictures to enlarge.
© Pictures : MJX, except otherwise specified.


Pictures
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click on pictures to enlarge.
© Pictures : MJX, except otherwise specified.


- electrical motor (13-08-2006)

- electrical motor (13-08-2006)

- skip de fonderie (13-08-2006)

- laminoir (13-08-2006)

- chevalement (13-08-2006)

- chevalement (13-08-2006)

- chevalement (13-08-2006)

- locomotive (13-08-2006)

- locomotive - intérieur (13-08-2006)

- vers Charleroi (13-08-2006)

- vers Charleroi - another pit (13-08-2006)

- un fronton (13-08-2006)

- un fronton (13-08-2006)

- la pointeuse (13-08-2006)

- electrical motor (13-08-2006)

- machine à vapeur (13-08-2006)

- laminoir (13-08-2006)

- machine-outils à courroies (13-08-2006)

- ads (13-08-2006)

- chevalement (13-08-2006)

- chevalement (13-08-2006)

- chevalements (13-08-2006)

- forgeron (13-08-2006)

- forgeron (13-08-2006)

- monument montrant la lourde contribution de l'Italie (13-08-2006)

- la cloche qui a donné l'alerte (13-08-2006)

- la recette (13-08-2006)

- chevalement (13-08-2006)

- la salle des machines et les câbles plats (13-08-2006)

- locomotive (13-08-2006)

- le site et les deux chevalements (13-08-2006)
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Your photos

Data Base : Fossils
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click on pictures to enlarge.
© Pictures : MJX, except otherwise specified.


Data Base : Minerals
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© Pictures : MJX, except otherwise specified.


Oldies
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Present
Old

Links-miscellaneous
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Id
Link
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214
1547
Musée de l'industrie - Bois du Cazier
http://www.leboisducazier...



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jauniaux

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