On another early sunday morning we arrived at this big steel site. It used to produced raw steel bars to be shaped at other sites. The blast furnace was fired on 4 december 1963 and started producing 2000 tonnes of steel per day. It was modernized and expanded in 1976, 1985, 1996 and lastly in 2007. The production was first increased from 2000 tonnes to 3000 tonnes per day, and then even to 5400 tonnes per day! In 2008 the blast furnace was shut down and the factory put on stand-by. A company bought the site with plans to modernize it to make the production cleaner and more profitable, but due to the financial crisis and a low demand for steel it never happened. Then in 2012 the site was closed for good. Another victim of the steel industry moving to cheaper countries.
Locals are protesting against demolition and want it to be repurposed. They see it as a landmark in the city that had once the first cokes driven blast furnace, which was constructed in 1827. They want it to be preserved as a symbol of the Industrial Revolution and a big boost for the economy of Belgium, but also as a remembrance to the bad conditions the employees had to work in.
Dating back to 1963, HF 4 is pretty ‘young’ and thus still in a relatively good condition. It made the climb to the top of the blast furnace a lot less scary than climbing the rusty one at HF B. Usually the newer factories don’t interest me much, but this one had its photogenic spots, and of course the view alone is worth the effort!