The boat lift at Strepy-Thieu was planned as part of the project begun in the 1950s to make the late 19th and early 20th century Canal du Centre linking the Meuse and the Scheldt through the coalfield between Mons and Charleroi accessible for the standard European 1350 tonne barges. Construction of the lift commenced in 1982 and it was opened twenty years later. It replaces four lifts in the area around La Louviere which have been retained for recreational traffic, and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The lift at Strepy-Thieu consists of two independent counterweighted caissons measuring 112 m x 12 m, that are raised and lowered 73.15 m between the two levels of canal. There is a visitor centre which serves as a base for boat trips and as a point of information for the nearby lifts at La Louviere and the inclined plane of the 1960s at Ronquieres.