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Le Bois du Cazier

Rue de Cazier 80
6001 Marcinelle
Telephone +32 (0) 71 - 880856

Website >>

The Site

The Bois du Cazier colliery at Marcinelle on the southern side of Charleroi was the site of a tragedy that demonstrates how men travelled across Europe in search of work in the period after the Second World War. The colliery was established in 1822, and in 1955 its 779 miners produced 170,557 tonnes of coal from workings more than 1000 m below the surface.

On 8 August 1956 the colliery was the scene of one of the worst mining disasters in Belgian history, when the accidental starting of a hoist mechanism at the shaft bottom before loaded coal wagons were in place caused electricity cables to snap, spreading fire throughout the workings. The fire killed 262 miners of 12 different nationalities; 95 were Belgian and 136 Italian. One of the first rescuers to re-enter the workings was an Italian, whose horrified expression ‘tutti cadaveri’ (all dead) has ever since symbolised the scale of the disaster.

The colliery buildings, set within 26 ha of woodlands, are now the property of the regional government, and are managed as a visitor attraction by a non-profit trust. The surface buildings are largely intact, and include two steel headframes with their winding gear, the lamp store, the pithead baths and a locomotive shed. There is a wall of remembrance for the victims of the disaster.

Visitors are able to climb three landscaped waste tips. The first provides a view over the colliery itself. There is an open air theatre on the second, together with an avenue of remembrance with trees characteristic of the 12 countries from which the victims of the fire originated. The third, some 250 m above ground level, and accessed by a spectacular footbridge, gives wide views over the landscape around Charleroi that was once dominated by coal mining, where some 25,000 miners were employed in 1956.

Within the pithead complex are two museums. One illustrates the range of coal-using industries characteristic of the region, such as iron and steel making, glass manufacture and chemicals, and includes steam engines and a rolling mill. The other, in a modern steel-and-glass building, displays the history of glass-making from earliest times to the present. Powered forge hammers from the Providence Forge at Marchienne-au-Point are preserved at the complex. They are regularly demonstrated and visitors can learn techniques of forging iron at workshop sessions.

Opening hours

Tuesday - Friday pam-5pm
Saturday, Sunday 10am-6pm
Guided tours optional; Tours in other languages;

Service facilities

Admission Charge Access for persons with disabilities For details see website Gift and book shop on Site Yes

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