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Belgium Charbonnage du Renard - May 2018 & June 2019

Urban Relics

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I wasn't entirely sure where to post this one. The building was once part of a mining company, which would make it an industrial location. However, most of what once reminded of the mining activity has been removed, when the building was purchased by a local garage owner, who turned the last remaining building into a car workshop, which is not something industrial... So there you have it. "Anything else" it is.

On our last visit, we came across some Dutch looters, looking for spare parts for their cars. They made no effort to try and hide the fact that they were there to steal. For a moment I considered calling the police on their asses, but then I would need to explain why I was there myself... Also I would draw unwanted police attention to the place... I'm quite principal on not taking anything from any location (take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints), so this encounter left me quite frustrated. What would you do if you were to come across looters? Would you report them?

A bit of background:

The Charbonnage du Renard is a former coal company in the Belgian region of Liège. Initially modest, through successive acquisitions during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the company became one of the most powerful and largest coal companies in the region.

The first known coal mine exploitation in the area dates from the end of the 16th century, but this mine did not really develop until around 1825, when the concession reached a total area of 560 acres through systematic expansions. The annual production record was reached by the end of the 1930s, with 620,000 tons of coal mined in a year with a workforce of around 2,100. The annual production fell to 244,000 tons during WWII. The last expansions took place in 1939, making the company's concession about 2225 acres. The main operating center of the coal company was closed in 1967 and two years later coal mining was also stopped at this location.

The only remaining building is the "shower building", where the miners could change clothes and shower after work. The building also contains a limited administrative section, the infirmary and the pay hall. After the mine closed, the building was taken into use by a garage mechanic. There are still dozens of wrecks in the pay hall and the cellars of the building, mainly from the Ford brand. In the summer of 2011, there was some turmoil when it was announced that a project developer wanted to parcel the site to construct 100 homes. As the soil is heavily contaminated with heavy metals (lead and mercury), the project failed because of the totally inadequate measures proposed to clean up the soil...


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Thanks for watching! (y)
 
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