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Report - Maasmechelen Mine Head Frames (Belguim)



U

Urban Soldier

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#1
Whilst working in Belgium this week i spotted these 2 mine headframes from the road and decided to investigate further. I pulled over and headed over. I wanted so much to climb these babies but they are both selaed off with fencing and whilst its easy to slip through like i did being on top would mean being visible to every person vising the new outlet shopping mall built on the mine a few hundred metres away. Still a cool place and somewhere ill be visiting again soon.

Some History:

The Belgian coal mining industry in Flanders seems to have developed rapidly from 1901 onwards, with coal mines located in Beringen, Zolder, Houthalen, Zwartberg, Winterslag and Waterschei as well as in Eisden. Because the rural areas were thinly populated, many labourers were brought in initially from Eastern-European countries to work in the new mines. However, during the period immediately after World War II, the mine workers in the Maasmechelen province came predominantly from Italy - many settling permanently in and around Eisden.

Throughout the period of occupation by Nazi Germany during the Second World War the labour force for the Eisden Mines consisted mainly of Russian Prisoners of War. The tables were turned after the German forces capitulated, when the Russians were replaced by German Prisoners of War. The nearby Prisoner of War camp where, first the Russians and then the Germans were imprisoned,(and which later served as temporary accommodation for the Italian workers), was demolished some years ago and is now a football field. The Eisden coal mine itself was closed down in 1987, when there was a general slump in coal production from the Limburg mines. As a result, unemployment figures in the Maasmechelen area rose dramatically.

Today, the economy is reviving and a number of projects are being developed in the region with the help of the Flemish Government. Sadly, what remains of the Eisden coal mines is rapidly disappearing now that a shopping mall, with its own cinema and restaurants, has been developed on the site. Some buildings, including the old Infirmary, have already gone and it is likely that the remaining structures will eventually be demolished and an important part of the history of the area will have disappeared for ever.

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The Second and more modern of the 2 headframes approx 100 metre from the older frame

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