When the colliery director stepped outside onto the balcony of his company villa, the whole of the colliery site lay below him at his feet. To the left were the pit buildings, to the right the area containing the offices and workshops, and directly in front of him was the central axis running through the colliers´ village. This had been built especially for the purpose and contained everything the workers needed: a church, a hospital, schools, shops, a home for old people, a community centre, even a small park with a bandstand. Not forgetting, of course, the houses themselves. All this gave the company the advantage of being able to keep all the workers together - under control. In this way the company was also able to dictate the social rules, from the patterns of work to the leisure activities.
The history of the St Emanuel model colliery really began long before it came into existence. In 1685 the "Societé du Bois-du-Luc" was founded here. At first, the aim of this commercial company, which brought together mining know-how and money, was to find a technical solution to prevent the mines from flooding. Up until the middle of the 19th century the company bought up several different collieries in the area, by which time it was one of the most important mining companies in Belgium. The most beautiful pit of all, "St Emanuel", went into operation in 1846, at a time when work on constructing the neighbouring housing settlement had already begun.
The colliery site was closed down in 1959 and 20 years later the "Societé du Bois-du-Luc" became a thing of the past. People are still living in the colliery settlement; indeed they were the first to demand that the historic buildings be preserved. Now the pithead site has been thoroughly restored and houses the "Ecomusée du Bois-du-Luc" aims to record everything the architecture, the landscape and the inhabitants of the central Belgian area of "Le Centre" have to tell about the history of the coal period. The Museum expressly desires the participation of the local population. The best example of this is a tour of the St Emanuel colliery.