The Hasard de Cheratte coal mine dates back to 1850, when the first well to the coal rich banks of the Meuse was dug. A rich coal seem was chased but it ran in the direction of the Meuse river, causing constant flooding of the mine. Steam engine pumps were fighting to pump the water out but in 1877 the water made a big section of tunnel collapse. Several workers drowned in the incident and the mine was closed. Thirty years later, in the year 1907, the mine was re-opened. Because of the small premise the mine is built on, the company decided to build the first headframe in Belgium, which is a high tower with a hoist at the top. It was also the first electric powered mine elevator with two 135 kilowatts DC motors. In 1920 a coal washing plant was built and a second extraction mine with a metal headframe was constructed. In 1927 a shaft called Belle-Fleur was opened and was going to be used to bring the tailings, which is the leftover material from the digging, to the surface.
Between 1923 and 1947 a third extraction shaft was dug, which got a simple headframe made of reinforced concrete on top. In the following years the extraction machine at the top of shaft n° 3 became insufficient, so a new and better extraction machine was built on the ground level with cables running up to the original headframe. In the 1950s shaft n° 1 stopped extracting and became a rescue shaft, in the surrounding buildings many changing and washing rooms were made for the workers. The mine reached its peak in the 1930s, having a total of 1500 employees. The mine closed on October 31, 1977, seemingly in a hurry. Most of the furniture, documentation, clothing etcetera were left behind. The concrete slab closing off shaft n° 3 is detoriated and exposes the flooded mine, spreading a nasty smell over the area.
Hasard de Cheratte has become the epitome of urban exploration. It was one of the first places becoming big in this scene. Back then the buildings were greatly intact and the worker’s clothing still hanging on the hooks in the changing rooms amazed us all. Unfortunately buildings becoming ‘famous’ isn’t a good thing in this hobby, Cheratte suffered an astonishing amound of damage by vandalism and scrapping. I personally had labeled this place as ‘too vandalised and not worth a visit anymore’, but it ended up being a pretty awesome playground for the day! The graffiti is awful though. I wish I would’ve had the opportunity to visit Cheratte in 2004 or something. I remember often driving past when going on holidays with my parents back then, and always saying “why the hell can’t we pull over and go there for once?!”. My parents were very supporting in my hobby but this one never happened. Several buildings are going to be demolished in October 2015, so I’m still glad that I’ve seen the mine before it’s becoming even more crippled.