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Belgium Hasard Cheratte Coal Factory April 2017

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Visited with Bigjobs and AndyJ

 

I'd never heard of this place but on a recent trip to Belgium for non-explory stuff, AndyJUK happened to mention a coal factory just near to where we were going and showed me some pics, ohhhh it was so pretty and yes, of course, I wanted to go and play out there!

 

We got the satnav details up and off we went, only to be ambushed by a diversion that didn't make sense and so with a road block in front of us we pulled up looking for somewhere to park. Spotting a Belgian about to leave we turned round ready to poach the space, laughing the Belgian approached the limo and shook his head as if to say no way would be fit in there, anyway opening the door to talk to the man he asked us where we were going, Jobs, getting out his best french, explained where we were going and the man pointed to a road across some rail lines and explained we needed to go that way. Thanking him but still thinking we were having that spot we watched him get in his car only for us to be thwarted (or so we thought) by the Belgian waiting whilst a dinky red car parked there! Yes, we cursed, until we realised that rather than allowing his "mate" to park he was actually waiting for us to follow him, so we did! 

 

Whizzing across the rail tracks and driving the wrong way down one-way streets off we went, following the little old Belgian man. Just a few turns later he pulled over, came over and pointed at what we wanted to see and after many Merci Buckets he went on his way and we dumped the limo and set off to explore.

 

Unfortunately, demolition has already started on this and the workers were in full flow with the diggers, so going in the front was definite a no go. Nipping round the back of some houses we found our way to the side of the building and decided to have a mooch over the fence and up the back, but not before the boys got distracted by a random pair of handcuffs fastened to the fence! (Yep ten minutes later they were off the fence and a souvenir gifted to AndyJUK!).

 

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After a quick climb up we were in! We spent a good while mooching about and although a lot of the stuff that can be seen in other reports has gone it was still pretty cool to look around.

 

So a couple of hours and a lot of photos later we headed out with the hope of a photo of the front of the site entrance......yeah, maybe not! Heading towards the entrance we spotted an angry looking dude in high vis watching us like a hawk so made a quick U-turn and headed back to the limo. Ten seconds later an executive decision was made to drive past the dude and grab a shot anyway! Jobs drove up and I legged it out the car and into the entrance of the site and took probably the crappest shot ever but it was worth it just to spite the Hi Vis dude.

 

Here's a bit of history from substreet.org

 

Near Visé, Belgium lies the mining village of Cheratte, where coal was unearthed between 1847 and 1977. After finding a generous seam of coal in 1851, the company began serious development of the site. They sank new shafts, developed the aboveground structures, and hired hundreds of miners.

 

As workers chased the seam underground, they passed the water table of the nearby river, dooming the mineshaft, which flooded persistently thereafter. Pumps attached to steam engines were installed to keep the lower sections productive, but less than a year later, in 1877, the flooding caused a major tunnel collapse, trapping and drowning the workers in that section. The mine closed for the first time.

 

In 1907, investors who wanted to again tap the coal under Cheratte paid for the construction of the first mine headframe in Belgium. A headframe is the part of a mine where the shaft meets the surface, and it is typically a simple tower with a hoist in the centre. Cheratte is different, though. For reasons I cannot explain, but choose simply to appreciate, they built the tower and support structures in a medieval influenced neo-gothic style. 

 

At its peak, 1,500 men worked here, and about half that number still took the ride underground when the operation closed in 1977. (subtreet.org)

 

And of course, some pics of varying quality :D Hope you enjoy!

 

 

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The place was a magnet for urban explorer and photographers for many, many years. Meanwhile, it was quite empty and broken, and the long planned demolition was only a matter of time. But nevertheless a pity, the buildings were an impressive visual backdrop.

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I've driven past this one a few times and always liked the look of, stunning looking building, especially considering its purpose. 

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