The Bois-du-Luc mining site, a landmark of industrial heritage
The entrance is a thick steel guillotine door, flanked by two round towers which look as if they might have come out of the Middle Ages. Behind them are redbrick buildings which, because of their rich decorations, might easily be mistaken for churches or palaces. From one of the roofs emerges the slim and graceful steel frame of a pithead tower. It is immediately clear that the historical St Emanuel colliery in the former Belgium coalmining area of “Le Centre” is an architectural jewel. During its working life it was a self enclosed world cut off from the surrounding area by high walls. The mining company not only dictated everyday working conditions but also the miners´ private lives in the neighbouring housing settlement. Since 1983 visitors have been allowed inside this microcosm, thanks to the “Ecomusée du Bois-du-Luc”. The round tour of the museum entitled "Between Men and Machines" gives a vivid picture of the strict hierarchy at the pit and the close intermeshing of the various working processes. Visitors can experience a typical day in the life of a collier, enter the director´s office (once the brain centre of the colliery), go inside the colliery workshops and watch the craftsmen at work, before taking a look inside a typical worker’s house from the start of the 20th century.