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Report - German coal - July 2011

Discussion in 'European and International Sites' started by thompski, Jul 30, 2011.

  1. thompski

    thompski Leggy brunette
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    I recently found myself in Germany and Belgium with RJ, JSt and James. I looked forward to the trip as a whole, however I was most looking forward to visiting the Ruhr and its coal mining industry, which is currently going through its twilight hours.

    One thing that'll strike anyone if they visit the Ruhr is the sheer pride and love the people have for their industrial heritage, reflected by the numerous headstocks and even complete mining complex's that have been preserved around the region. It's easy to say that this is justification for preserving the coal mining heritage of Britain, however I suspect the semi-rural locations of Britain's surviving mines and British apathy towards history would mean such ventures would be doomed here.

    What really appealed to me however was the architectural qualities of these mine buildings, incredibly basic with their steel and brick exteriors yet at the same time majestic and grand, with giant headframes overlooking the towns and villages that no doubt housed the former miners and their families. Beyond these impressive exteriors are equally stark and minimalist tiled work areas, resembling a 1980s railway station and of course those much photographed cage rooms, or Kaue as they're properly known.

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    Arriving late in the day, but not late enough to settle down with beer and fire we decided to head to Zeche Hugo, or rather its bath house which apart from its 1974 built white 'tripod' headframe was one of the only buildings left. 14 years after closure, this stalwart of the Ruhr's abandoned offerings isn't looking too great. A few shots of the Kaue room and we left, the local kids interrogating us as to why we were in the derelict Zeche on the way back to the suspicious British registered Fiesta.

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    Anyhow, next day we headed over to SE. A much more complete looking coal mine complex, we found much of it inaccessible or in use for small businesses, and the vast pit bank shared by the older headframes stripped.

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    It wasn't all bad, the winding house for shaft 7 was fairly nice.

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    Our efforts to climb the 1980s 'tripod' (a twin of that at Hugo) amounted to naught, and we opted for the Fritz Schupp headframe over shaft 7, watched by several locals at the nearby Aldi.

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    Afterwards we headed to nearby Ewald, which has been preserved and used for a mixture of light industry, entertainment and exhibits relating to the former mine. It's impressive A-frame headstock is very much doable, just not at 2pm when there's families walking around. After eating and other dicking about, the day was rapidly coming to a close, my research suggested Zeche L would be worth a quick wander as it was largely demolished but had a nice pit bank for its 1910s headframe which would be worth a quick wander.

    After struggling to get there due to a bridge being demolished and me writing down the wrong road name, we were greeted by a largely intact set of buildings.

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    Plans for a quick evening wander soon failed, Zeche L delivered in a big way; pit banks, control rooms, minimal vandalism and a 230ft a-frame. We spent several hours here, and could have spent much longer.

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    And to finish it off, so to speak.
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    The Polizei took an interest in the Englishers on top of the 230ft Förderturm, so we made a hasty retreat in the unlikely event of them asking us for Euro's for wasting their time, it was worth the risk.

    Ultimately, this trip wasn't about coal mines, and having spent over a day on the Autobahn's, the horrendous weather and the need for something other than coal mines pushed us back towards Belgium and it's drier weather and variety. No doubt I'll return here one day.
     

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