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Thread: Penchon Head-stocks, Charleroi, Belgium, November 2019

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    Default Penchon Head-stocks, Charleroi, Belgium, November 2019


    1. The History
    Located on the borders of Marcinelle and Couillet, near Charleroi, "Le PÍchon" was the name given to Mine No.25 of coal mining company of Marcinelle Nord. It was opened in 1910 and then, 20 years later, absorbed by Monceau-Fontaine, the largest mining company in the Charleroi basin. Many of the mine’s galleries were swampy (hence the name) and infamous for their dangerous nature, especially for the firedamp they concealed. The mine went to a depth of 1,115 meters, passing under the neighbouring Cazier mine. Its galleries crawled for more than four kilometres underground and was one of the first seams to use electric extraction machines.

    On June 17th, 1952 a very rare accident occurred. In a gallery located at a depth of 790m connecting PÍchon to the mine of Festiaux (no.24), a locomotive broke down. A call was made to the surface and soon, 6 men were found around the loco. A violent explosion followed. Rescuers arrived in the gallery to discover the extent of the damage: 4 dead, 6 missing and 2 survivors. Investigations carried out afterwards concluded the explosion was due to ignition of the firedamp, most likely lit during the attempts of revivals of the locomotive.

    Life was hard in the mine as shown by this archive film footage of the mine:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WI7-U8n3xzw

    Penchon old 02 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Just over 20 years later, in November, 1972, six miners lost their lives, buried under the coal, again due to a mine gas explosion. An instantaneous release of firedamp caused the death of six miners in front of a gallery, located in vein A42, 800 meters underground. It gave PÍchon the dubious honour of being the last mine in Wallonia where a major disaster occurred. It spelled the beginning of the end for the mine which finally closed less than three years later in March 31st, 1975.

    The site has been completely cleared of its buildings now for many years. Only the 2 headstocks now remain and have been awaiting restoration for several years.

    2. The Explore
    Was contemplating whether to report on here as my photos were pretty limited to be honest. In the end given it’s not been reported on here before so figured something was better than nothing. This was a bit of a bonus explore right at the end (and the 10th explore) of my trip to Belgium, last month. I’d had this place marked on a previous visit to Charleroi a year or so ago but never got around to coming here. I’d kind of forgotten about the place but when I was heading over to Amicale Solvey late on the Sunday, caught a glimpse of these two beasts. So, on the way back with the sun having set and dusk upon me, I parked up, walked down an overgrown path between two houses onto an old football field at the back of some houses and negotiated the wire fencing. The two iron giants reaching up into the colbalt-blue sky was pretty atmospheric. Fortunately, I had just enough light to get some decent pictures but didn’t contemplate climbing them in the low light. And a fitting way to finish off a pretty coal-mining heavy trip…

    3. The Pictures

    img4482 by HughieDW, on Flickr



    img4483 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img4486bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img4487bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img4488bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img4489 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img4490bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img4492 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img4494bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img4496 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img4497bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

  2. Thanks given by: Hugh Jorgan, Mearing, RedX_unleashed, theartist
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  4. #2
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    Excellent pics as always Hughie, looks like a cool way to end your trip :)
    Aversos Compono Animos

  5. Thanks given by: HughieD
  6. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by King Al View Post
    Excellent pics as always Hughie, looks like a cool way to end your trip :)
    Cheers mate. Was certainly lightly chilled!

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