Coal mine, Anderlues, Belgium, November 2019

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HughieD

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1. The History
Anderlues is a Walloon municipality located in the Belgian province of Hainaut. Coal extraction dates back to 1858 when the company Anderlues was created. In 1894 the Société Anonyme des Houillères d'Anderlues was formed in 1894 through the merger with some local coal mines and the first coke factory established in 1904. It had an annual capacity of 90,000 tons of “foundry coke” along with a tar recovery plant and ammonium sulphate plant. It was built near the central washhouse and a power plant was added later. In 1908 two more coke oven batteries were added, each one with 26 Coppée furnaces and able to produce 74,000 tons. Further refinements in the 1920’s included the installation of a benzene distillation plant and the complete refurbishment of the ovens in 1928.

Archive picture when the plant was still working;

49112731682_34f68559cc_n.jpgAndalues old 1 by HughieDW, on Flickr

During the Second World War the company proceeded to update its coal mining and treatment facilities. As result, the plant was employing approximately 2,000 people with about a quarter of the work force at the coke plant. By 1956 there were 35 furnaces in service and renovation took place between 1956 and 1958. Both the old batteries B1 and B2 were provided with 10 Coppée/CEC furnaces and a third battery (B3) of 18 Coppée ovens was created. Despite those investments coke production remained a secondary. However, the company’s coal mines were gradually closed down (five in 1943 and three in 1952) and in 1969 coal mining was suspended and coal imported from Spain and North America.

In 1971 the company changed its name into Société Anonyme des Cokeries et Houillères d'Anderlues (shorten in Cokeries d'Anderlues). The production was extended to metallurgical coke (or “Cokan”) for blast furnaces and the bi-products such as benzene and gas were sold to other companies. In 1988 battery B3 was renovated giving it a capacity of 120,000 tonne of coke per annum (83% foundry and 17% metallurgical). With no further improvements in the 1990s the plant reached the new millennium run-down and on a heavily polluted site.

Aerial picture shortly after the pant closed:

49112033288_e2e25d757b_b.jpgAndalues old 3 by HughieDW, on Flickr

In 1999 the company’s regional permit to operate was denied by the Ministry of the Walloon Region. The heavy costs of putting this right plus the increasing competition from emerging countries forced the company to close down the coking plant indefinitely in November 2002 and the loss of 113 jobs. The longest running coke plant in Belgium was then sold in 2004 to a private owner who demolished a number of buildings on the site including the laundry, furnace machines, engines, metal parts of the furnaces and gas treatment tanks. Since then, the site has remained abandoned, awaiting the demolition of the remaining structures.

2. The Explore
No.4 of five sites visited on my first day in Belgium. This was by far the biggest of the places I looked around. Again, access was ridiculously easy. The site is pretty overgrown and not as easy to get around as you think. The buildings have been stripped and are pretty much shells, but the external views mean it still merits a visit. It was here that I saw the only other people all day – a couple of local explorers who were having a look round and had their own sound system!

3. The Pictures

The first thing of interest you come to is this:

49075296993_f748360bc8_b.jpgimg4177 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49075824191_8efcc984c2_b.jpgimg4178 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49075169886_d4f9b5baac_b.jpgAnderlues 15 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The colliery winding gear looks closer than it is:

49076031892_69612bc2c2_b.jpgimg4180 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49075822031_e34b69b3e0_b.jpgimg4185 by HughieDW, on Flickr

On to the main plant:

49075379327_52284a39f2_b.jpgAnderlues 14 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The coking tower still dominates the site:

49076035407_3120f0c587_b.jpgimg4175 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49075856791_593ef9238f_b.jpgimg4119 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49075317953_d5c709da52_b.jpgimg4134 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49075309183_697b1093d6_b.jpgimg4146 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49075381827_9aa37a5f61_b.jpgAnderlues 06 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49075316838_eeca0bc686_b.jpgimg4135 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49075855171_9d5b33dd07_b.jpgimg4121 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Former gasometer:

49075316058_9beb7427d3_b.jpgimg4137 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49075172016_2e6de444f7_b.jpgAnderlues 07 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The electrical workshop:

49075305548_e820949169_b.jpgimg4159 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49076042462_b02458b695_b.jpgimg4156 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49075172721_8915f3132d_b.jpgAnderlues 05 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Old power station building:

49075840331_72d6809564_b.jpgimg4142 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49076044212_7b17532bef_b.jpgimg4149 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49074640773_9180a821f4_b.jpgAnderlues 11 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49075836936_3fa8aa56da_b.jpgimg4145 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49075310653_24bd458308_b.jpgimg4144 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49075171826_db3386068e_b.jpgAnderlues 08 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49075171266_52f9d2a6a9_b.jpgAnderlues 10 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49075380732_8a8f463e74_b.jpgAnderlues 09 by HughieDW, on Flickr

View over to the gasometer:

49075307543_3b7e68a1fa_b.jpgimg4153 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Floor detail:

49076048097_e1e12ef7e8_b.jpgimg4143 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Offices and cloakrooms:

49076036547_f620384113_b.jpgimg4174 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49075379592_5e4d5de8b6_b.jpgAnderlues 13 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49075301148_6b81010f79_b.jpgimg4173 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49074640638_6255d7a5d8_b.jpgAnderlues 12 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49076039802_b3ed3af4ce_b.jpgimg4162 by HughieDW, on Flickr
 

RedX_unleashed

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Very nice shots.

i'm still trying to work out exactly what that sign is trying to display. As my rusty french goes, i'm getting this much:

Work accidents

We have worked [insert work hours here i assume]

The record to beat is [insert here]

so it appears as if they are trying to beat the number of hours worked without an accident. That seems so strange, almost like they're expecting one to happen! Unless the "work accidents" at the top is intended for something else - and is out of context.

Anyway, great report nonetheless!
 

HughieD

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Very nice shots.

i'm still trying to work out exactly what that sign is trying to display. As my rusty french goes, i'm getting this much:

Work accidents

We have worked [insert work hours here i assume]

The record to beat is [insert here]

so it appears as if they are trying to beat the number of hours worked without an accident. That seems so strange, almost like they're expecting one to happen! Unless the "work accidents" at the top is intended for something else - and is out of context.

Anyway, great report nonetheless!

Think I concur with that. Cheers mate.
 

Sabtr

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Another interesting site. Very stripped out as you say but still showing one or two nice touches - I didn't expect to see the sides of coke ovens for example.
For an industrial site that survived two major wars I think it's done well!
Is the head frame and mine coming in another thread?
 

Dirus_Strictus

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it appears as if they are trying to beat the number of hours worked without an accident. That seems so strange, almost like they're expecting one to happen!!

A very common ploy in that era on dangerous work sites. These places were very accident prone and accidents were expected; the 'lets beat' the previous best accident free period did tend to work on the subconscious of the workers. However it was only the various H&S Regulations adopted in each country that really made a lasting difference to the workplace.
 

Hayman

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Another interesting site. Very stripped out as you say but still showing one or two nice touches - I didn't expect to see the sides of coke ovens for example.
For an industrial site that survived two major wars I think it's done well!
Is the head frame and mine coming in another thread?
In 1997/78 I worked at the coal gas plant in Christchurch, New Zealand. Its main structures - apart from the gasholders - were the Intermittent Vertical Chambers. They were charged with coal and then sealed for 16 hours for the cooking process to convert the coal to coke and to extract the gas and other products. The term Intermittent related to how each chamber could be charged and emptied indvidually. It is now long gone, going when New Zealand began using natural gas from the Maui field.
 
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