Coal mine of Hasard de Cheratte

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Coal mine of Hasard de Cheratte
Charbonnage du Hasard de Cheratte début XXème (5).jpg
Coal mine of Hasard de Cheratte in activity
Location
Location Visé
History
Opened 1907
Closed 1977
Owner
Company Société anonyme des Charbonnages du Hasard

The Coal mine of Hasard de Cheratte (or Cheratte 10) is the main colliery of Société anonyme des Charbonnages du Hasard, composed of four mine shafts. It is located in Cheratte, a section of the Belgian town of Visé located in the Walloon Region in the province of Liège. The first well was dug in 1850 to extract dice coal and closed for the first time in 1877 following an accident. It re-opened thirty years later in 1907 and operated until 1977. In the early twenty-first century, the mine has gained some notoriety as an urban ruin. Remediation of the site and the demolition of several buildings start in 2017.

History[edit]

Commemorative plate

This first shaft was dug in 1850 to a depth of 250 meters.[1] After reviewing the mine to know its state, the engineers noticed that the thiny coal was located deeply.[2] The first mine was dug again and reached a depth of 420 meters.[3] The place on which the mine is located is not very big. The extraction company decided [2] to build a headframe, a first in Belgium. This tower was fitted with an extraction machine and several motors working with direct current.[4] A washhouse was built in 1920 by Beer de Jemeppe company, and a second extraction mine with a metallic tower opened.[1] In 1927, the Belle-Fleur mine[5] was equipped by a little tower made of reinforced concrete and a low power winch. Its work was to bring the tailings back to the surface.[1]

A third mine and a headframe were built between 1927 and 1947.[1] In 1938, the mine reached 313 metres depth, but it only became operational in 1953. It was improved and reached 480 metres depth. The extraction machine at its top was insufficient. The engineer decide to install a machine on the floor, and to improve it. The n° 1 mine stopped the extraction and became a rescue mine. Then, its additional building were converted to showers and cloakrooms. The n° 2 mine was sealed off.[4] In the 1930s, the site reached its apogee, employing 1 500 openers. When it closed on October 31, 1977, it employed more than 600 miners.[2]

Architecture[edit]

View of varied architectures of the site.

The coal shafts have varied industrial architectural designs, despite being constructed around the same time. The towers and the additional buildings of mine n° 1 were built with medieval architecture,[2] whereas mine number two had a metallic tower. The tower of the mine n° 3 is the tallest of the site, and is built with reinforced concrete. It was originally built to host a machine at its top, but this machine was eventually built on the ground. The tower of Belle-Fleur mine was built on the same principle but is taller and has more typical architecture for the 1920s.[1]

Conversion[edit]

The tower of shaft No. 1, in 2012

After its closure, the site was purchased at a low price by Mr Armand Lowie, a flemish real estate developer,[6] who decided to dismantle it.[2] However, several decrees were published to protect the site in 1978, 1982 and 1992.[2] In 1997, the Belle-Fleur tower underwent solidity control and is equipped again.

In the early twenty-first century, the ruins have become known for the practice of urbex.[2]

In 2007, the Hasard was included in a rehabilitation program made by Wallon Government[7] to restore frontages and roofs of the Phalanstère, as well as the machines room and the wooded hill. The tower of mine n° 1 has been classified as a local heritage site since 1980.[8]

At the end of the year 2008, Mr. Lowie filed a building permit for the demolition of the concrete tower Well No. 3 and ancillary buildings to replace them with housing and shops, but opposition was strong and the project was suspended.[2] The April 30, 2013, after more than thirty years of controversy between the owners and the authorities, notice of expropriation was recorded by the Minister Philip Henry and the coal site became public.[9] The SPI is responsible for cleaning up the site with a budget 2 070 000 Euro . A conversion plan is being prepared for the end of 2013, and unclassified parts of buildings will be demolished in October 2015. The site will then offer services to individuals and businesses.[10]

Ruins[edit]

In 2016, the installations of shaft No. 1 and No. 3 were in ruins, and the buildings of shaft No. 1 were classified as local heritage sites. The n° 2 shaft was destroyed, as well as several buildings around it. The No. 4 mine was well-preserved.[1][8]

Company town[edit]

The Cheratte company town was built in 1925 and composed of 200 houses without geometric plan, each consisting of six rooms. Each house had a sewer, tap water, electricity, and a garden. There was an hotel for single people in the town. It hosted 128 bedrooms and cost 1 Belgian franc per day. There was also a castle, in which was located a medical room and the director's residence.[4]

At the closure of the mine, the company town was purchased and restored by a regional social housing company.[4]

Notes and references[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°40′51″N 5°40′13″E / 50.68083°N 5.67028°E / 50.68083; 5.67028