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Sainte-Marie coal mine

Sainte-Marie coal mine

A Belgian Corbusier in Ronchamp

Anyone on their way to the top of the Colline Notre-Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, France, to visit le Corbusier's chapel will come across another concrete gem at the foot of the mountain, namely the headframe of the Puits Sainte-Marie coal mine.

Although its designer is slightly less known than architect le Corbusier, he has nevertheless left his mark on industrial architecture in Europe. His name? Charles Tournay. This Liège engineer and architect specialized in constructing concrete headframes and built this example in the Ronchamp mine basin in 1924.

Tragic fall

His latest achievement was the construction of the concrete headframe of Puits Ricard in La Grand-Combe in southern France. He never saw the result of his design. On March 9, 1939, early morning at 8 o'clock, Tournay worked on the headframe. When a scaffolding came loose, 54-year-old Tournay fell twenty meters. He was instantly dead.

Memory of the mining region

The headframe Tournay designed in Ronchamp in the 1920s was hardly used. The mine operators preferred another mine in Ronchamp to extract coal. The curtain fell for the Puits Sainte-Marie as early as 1958.

Despite its minimal use, this concrete headframe was the only one left standing as a reminder of the coal industry of the French mining region of Ronchamp and Champagney.

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