The cellar is amazing! Suddenly it opens out into a complete mining gallery! Rough hewn timber struts support the walls and ceilings, trolleys and drills stand at the ready, a hoisting cage is there, a throwshovel loader and even a latrine bucket. Once these were all accompanied by the noisy monotonous rhythm of a steam engine (1885). There were many similar sites in the Bergisch Land during the 19th century. In those days zinc blende was mined in over 50 pits from one-man businesses to the huge mine in Lüderich which closed in 1978 for good, thereby putting an end to a mining tradition which was typical for the region. The cellar of the Bergisch Museum of Mining, Crafts and Trade in the Bergisch-Gladbach suburb of Bensberg keeps alive the memories of a once important branch of industry.
Life between the palace and the mining galleries: this is the motto of the astonishingly variegated series of exhibitions housed here directly beneath the magnificent Bensberg Palace. The museum itself dates back to 1928 and is housed in the so-called “Little Tower House” adjacent to the local town hall. The exhibition is centred on people’s everyday life in the pre- and early industrial eras. What was life here like around 1700 when Duke Johann Wilhelm II built his magnificent palace along the lines of the palace of Versailles? Where and under what conditions did the people live who built and equipped the feudal palace? A tour of the museum grounds becomes a journey back in time to the region’s crafts and trades. A tannery, a shoemaker’s and a saddler’s shop make a fascinating contrast to the mechanical production in a suitcase factory. The workshops of a chain smith and an ironsmith lie next to an historic water-driven hammer which originally stood in the Gelpe valley near Wuppertal before it was moved here. All these workshops contain a mass of original tools and equipment which is regularly put into operation. Along with the mock-up mine they promise visitors an exciting encounter with the economic and industrial history of a whole region.