The Velsen colliery is a typical Saarland mine. It´s history began in 1899 with the sinking of the Rossel shaft. Coal mining began in 1904. In 1965 the pit was deprived of its independence and no more coal was brought to the surface here. The only shaft remaining at Velsen was the "Gustavschacht" for ventilation and to enable miners to go down to the new integrated colliery at Warndt. Situated adjacent to the Duhamel pit in Ensdorf, this is the last pit in the Saarland still in operation.
The Velsen pit was named after a Prussian coal mining official by the name of Gustav von Velsen. It was common practice in the Saar region to name pits after Prussian civil servants and ministers. The arrangement of working and social areas, along with the strict hierarchy of directors, white-collar workers and black-collar workers also reflected Prussian attitudes. Furthermore the housing estates specially built for the colliery employers mirrored the structures in the mine, both under a Prussian and French administration.
In 1916 both shafts in the pit were served by a twin steam engine made in the Dingler Engine Factory in Zweibrück. After the pit was modernised and extended in 1936 this was replaced by another witness to the Prussian era of mining, a 2400 hp engine that is still in operation today. The trelliswork pithead gear erected in 1916 is also still in existence. Visitors are greeted by the sight of the historic gatehouse with its hipped roof, along with the horse stables that became redundant in 1907 when the pit was linked to the railways – an era when coalmining was the leading industry in the country.
Non-miners can find out how to excavate coal at first hand at the Velsen pit. The tour begins when they descend into the galleries to be confronted by the sight of drills and a coal cutter and loader. Here they can experience the works in operation and find out everything about how coal was mined, the technical equipment that was needed, the vital importance of pumps, and how people and material were transported up and down, either on a conveyor belt or behind an electric locomotive.