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Belgium Gustave Böel power plant/blower house, La Louviere - August 2020 (Demolished december 2020)

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Hi everyone, this is my first report here, I hope you'll like it!

History

This power plant used to provide energy to large steelworks, so i'll start with the history of this site. In the 1850's, a first factory was founded in order to elaborate iron. The company continued to grow and in the 1890's, it employed 1,200 workers. In the 1910's, the company had two blast furnaces, two batteries of coke ovens, a steel mill, rolling mills, forges, a steel foundry with workshops, etc... Demolished during the First World War, the factory was rebuilt and was completely restarted in 1924. From 1930 to 1940, the increase in production was actively pushed by the construction of a sinter plant and two new blast furnaces. Modernizations and conversions meant that from 1947 to the end of the century the monthly steel production increased from 30 to 120,000 tons. Still prosperous in the 1970s, the Factories were to experience a crisis and job cuts (there were 3,500 workers around 1985, only 1,200 in 2002). Alliances and takeovers followed one another and an end is definitively put to the activity of the blast furnaces in the 1990's, it is probably during this period that the power station, which was also the blowers house for the furnaces, was disused and the turbines were removed. The blast furnaces were sadly demolished soon after.

The last remaining building related the old blast furnaces was the power plant this report is about, but it have been deolished in december 2020 along with the steel mill. Now only the Rolling Mill is still standing, and still in operation.

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The site as it was around 2000, short before the blast furnaces were demolished.

The explore

The power plant is in two separated buildings, the boiler house and the turbine hall.


The boiler house

Let's start with the boiler house. It was an amazing place with a lot of decay going on but not any vandalism. I really loved the look of these boilers with the big yellow steam pipes, and the overgrown on the ground was just perfect. Even if it is far from beeing the largest boiler house I've seen, I's one of my all-time favourite.

These boileres were powered by blast furnace gas, and most likely heavy fuel as a backup solution. I think it also used gas produced by a chemical plant nearby as a big gas pipe connects it. (btw the chemical plant was beautiful, I didn't explored it myself as it was demolished long ago, If you are interested there are pics on this website)

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The turbine hall

Now let's head to the turbine hall. There was not much left to see there as all the machinery have been removed and scrapped when it shutdown. Although there were still some nice electrical panels, one of which probably dates back to the 20/30's, and a small section of the basement was still used by some pumps. There hall itself housed various stuff and was most likeliy used as a storage area by the nearby active mill. To be honest I totaly forgot to take a pic of the hall itself, I only focused on specific parts.

The hall used to house multiple turbo-alternator which porduced electicity, but also turbo-blowers which provided the compressed air needed by the blast furnaces. Too bad all of these are long gone...

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The early 20 century panel, the other ones probably used to look like this but it appears that they have been replaced by newer ones in the 70/80's:

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This small section of the building was still used. I love the contrast between the running pumps an lights and the otherwise abandoned looking rooms:

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A last pic as I got out of the buiding, goodbye Böel!

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I'm glad that I've been able to visit and document this place before it's gone, it was almost unknown and I've only seen a few pictures on the internet.

Gone but definitely not forgotten!
 
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jtza

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What a first report, I can't really fault that! Your photos are spot on and really like the write up. Welcome to OS :)
 
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AndyK!

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Ah I didn't know this had been demolished. It was a bit of a deathtrap so I'm not surprised, but sad to hear a nice bit of old industry has gone.
Cracking first report on here anyway, welcome to OS
 
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Ah I didn't know this had been demolished. It was a bit of a deathtrap so I'm not surprised, but sad to hear a nice bit of old industry has gone.
Cracking first report on here anyway, welcome to OS
Thanks! Yeah it's a shame that it's gone, as they finished demoliton of the nearby steel mill they took the chance to clean up the site from dissused buildings.
 
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Did you get around any more of the site?
No, I went there at the end of a day after visiting several other places in the area, I did not have time to see the steel mill part and other building that seem interesting. I was planning to return there but the demolition was faster than me -_-

I still want to go back there, in an other part of the site there is a beautiful sub-station full of all pannels and dials, and from what I know it is still standing (but it will most likely also be demolised soon)
 
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jane doe

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Excellent report and loved your photos ... great that you managed to photograph it before it was demolished , looked an awesome place :)
 

The_Raw

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What a great first report. More please 🤓
 

Dubbed Navigator

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First of all, welcome to OS 😊

Secondly, what an absolute gem of a report. Really enjoyed reading it. 👍

Thanks for putting the effort in.
 
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