The past, present for the future
In the south of Charleroi, at the gateway to the picturesque Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse region, the Bois du Cazier has become a place of life and meetings set against a background of industrial heritage. Nestling in the hollow of a setting of greenery, this architectural whole, crowned by two winding wheels, is encircled by three slagheaps which are ideal places for walks.
Scenery of a terrible mining disaster in 1964, the site has been rehabilitated thanks to the European Union and the Walloon Region. A museum travelling devoted to coal, steel and glass includes three sites : the 8th August area, the Industry Museum and the Glass Museum.
From the industrial revolution…
Because coal was the main source of energy in the 19th century, the Charleroi area becomes the region of industries. The Bois du Cazier colliery is born in 1822 by the grace of Willem I, king of the Netherlands, who grants Lady Dowager Desmanet the first exploitation authorisation. In 1955, production is 170.557 tons for a total of 779 workers.
… to the tragedy of Marcinelle
The 8th August 1956 seemed to be going to be just another day. The older ones among us remember those thick clouds of black smoke above the colliery, visible from far away.
That morning, 275 men had gone down into the underground depths, which they knew so well, to reach their workstation. The tragedy occurred at 8.10 am: a great fire engulfed the whole mine, taking the lives of 262 miners of 12 different origins.
Today the property of the Walloon Region, and managed by the non-profit organisation “Le Bois du Cazier”, the former colliery, converted thanks to the European funds of Objective 1, is a major cultural site in the Charleroi region.