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Bois du Cazier in Marcinelle

Bois du Cazier in Marcinelle

Marcinelle mining disaster

On August 8, 1956, disaster struck the Bois du Cazier mine in Charleroi, Belgium. A fire broke out hundreds of meters underground, killing 262 miners.

In the 19th century, Charleroi grew into an industrial giant thanks to coal. King William I of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands - of which Belgium was part at the time - issued an exploitation permit to the noble widow Desmanet in 1822 to dig for coal in the forests of Marcinelle, near Charleroi.

160,000 tons of coal per year

During the mine's heyday, the seven hundred miners extracted approximately 160,000 tons of coal annually, and in 1955 even 170,557 tons. But on August 8, 1956, disaster struck in Marcinelle.

Marcinelle mine disaster

That Wednesday morning, 275 miners descended into the mine. They had just reached their underground workplace when a tragedy occurred at ten past eight. While the coal wagon was still being loaded into the elevator cage, the elevator suddenly started moving, hitting the electrical cables and causing a fire in the shaft. 262 miners of twelve different nationalities were killed in the underground disaster.

After the disaster, operations were halted for months and five years later, in 1961, the Bois du Cazier finally closed down. In the 'August 8, 1956' room, you get an idea of ​​the disaster through videos, testimonies, etc.

World Heritage

The site was protected in 1990 and in 2012, together with three other Walloon mining sites, it was included on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The mining complexes house two museums, including the Industrial Museum, which traces the history of the Industrial Revolution in Charleroi.

A plate roller from the mid-19th century, steam engines, dynamos, or an electric tram from 1904 are among the eye-catchers.


The industrial museum is housed in the old miner's bathhouse. It tells the economic, social and technical history of the Walloon industrial basin of Haine-Sambre-et-Meuse, through collections initially housed in the Forges de la Providence in Marchienne-au-Pont.

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