Saturday, May 26, 2007

(B) Cheratte, Hasard Cheratte


This coal mine, located in the heart of the town of Cheratte, dates back to the 1860's, and was one of the numerous mines in the Liège coal basin. The main buildings consists of a tall, castle-like winding tower over shaft #1, which is connected to two similar looking wings, which held washrooms and other related facilities. A low laying building in the center of the facility served as a lamp room and charging area. The remains of a tower can be seen on the hill behind the mine, which sits over the shaft "Puits Hognée," and was used to transport waste materials. The imposing concrete winding tower sits over shaft #3, which is the deepest shaft at this facility (480 meters).

The mine has been closed since 1977, and has remained undisturbed for the most part. It has been designated as a Belgian protected landmark, which equates to fencing, signs, and nothing else.

Info source:

My boyfriend had examinated the place the day before, so today I only had to follow his footsteps through the forest. The last part, entering the domain of the buidings, was the hardest - a bit slippery because of the rain the day before - but we managed it without serious injuries ;-)
The first room, one of many with lockers and showers, already impressed me very much. Although completely rusty, it was like I was entering the past. We spent almost an hour over there (most of the time it's a mistake to spend such a long time in the first place you enter; usually other rooms are just as, or even more interesting. If you'd spend an hour on every place in such an interesting and huge site as Hasard Cheratte, you would need a couple of days).
I completely forgot about time while being there. Discovering a place makes me excited, taking photographs sets me at rest. It was nice to still find some (stiffen) clothes, helmets, gas masks, gloves, belts and of course: lots of boots.
Although this place has already been photographed many times, it's fun to search your own approach, and to try to transcend the quality of other people's photos.

Suddenly, when we were in one tower, we heard voices outside. Looking down, we saw a whole crew of photographers, helpers and models, and they even brought a small dog. Apparently they had entered through an easier way (probably legitimate), looking at the clothes of the models and the material they had brought!
They saw us but fortunately ignored us, so we tried to ignore them, although we had to pass right through their set a couple of times :-)

Because I had to catch a train and because I had spent way too many time in the first shower room, we had to go
too quickly through the last building we visited: the place where the workers got paid and where they stored their lamps and gas masks, etc.
What a pity, we'll have to return later to this urbex-heaven...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

(B) Kortrijk, Tuileries du Littoral, V


View set on Flickr
View slideshow on Flickr

Today, after working hours, we explored the rest of the buildings of Littoral. While we were busy on one side, we suddenly had to flee, because we heard someone entering the big hall, where doors are normally closed.
But we went on doing our thing, in the very dusty production halls. Today we were very lucky with the sunlight, as you can see in the set of today. I even met the big brother of R2D2, a very impressive machine.
Once back in the hall were we started, the setting sun produced a nice orange light.
But again we had to flee, the man seemed to be still busy putting things at the end of the hall. My boyfriend had to cross quickly, luckily the man didn't notice him.
Going back to our car, we saw the man at his car and he saw us, but he didn't care about us and we did neither ;-)

1st visit: 2007/03/10
2nd visit: 2007/03/18
3rd visit: 2007/04/01
4th visit: 2007/04/23

Saturday, May 19, 2007

(B) Dadizele, Dadipark


Dadipark in Dadizele is the oldest amusement park in Belgium.
It was raised in 1949 by the diocese of West-Vlaanderen under influence of priest Deweer. At the end of the eighties, the park was taken over by a few local retailers, but in 2003 they decided to close it down because the park made losses and the constant cost of repairs was raising.
At the climax of its popularity, Dadipark welcomed one million visitors a year - the last year there were hardly 175.000 visitors.

The park had always free entrance, and most of the attractions are mechanic, that is, the power comes from the kids and not from the electricity. In former summertimes, Dadipark was the place to be for many people I know, as part of a pilgrimage, a school trip or just some occupational therapy in summer holidays ;-).

Now nature has taken over the park that has a size of 10 hectare; weeds and rust are everywhere. Some attractions are even hard to find between all that green (in times of spring and summer).

In 2003, the middle class was still hoping that it would be closed for only one season.
In 2004 an investor from the Netherlands wanted to turn it into an outletshopping, but the plans didn't go on because a part of the park had to be restored in its original condition.
In 2005 there was again new hope that the park would be re-opened somewhere in 2007.
In 2006 the town-council of Moorslede would approve the change of the development plan, so that there could be a small shopping center too.
This year, on April 18, there was the announcement that a British investor would invest € 80 million in the park. The plan of Building & Engineering, a property developer from Deerlijk, is to open a free theme park, with income from commercial activities like the sale of products linked to the attractions. They aim at a half a million visitors a year and 350 employees. The re-opening would be in 2009... we'll see.
An amusement park for kids is now the playground of adult photographers...

When we tried to enter, some kids playing there thought it was cool and entered before us through the holes in the revolving door - which were too small for us. For one moment we considered to jump over the small canal, but luckily we found an easier way over it.
While shooting we met two other urbexers from Mechelen, but the real surprise was... 2 huge ostriches, running free in the park. Luckily they didn't go that far, so that the rest of our urbex-trip seemed pretty safe. Later on we met some local youth hanging around. The guys were proud that they had taken out the water in the arena near the big slide. They also told us that the ostriches are from a butcher nearby; they had broken out but the owner thinks it okay that Dadipark becomes a bit like Jurassic Park now ;-)

We climbed up the huge footbridge (used to be feared by a lot of kids) and had a nice view on the park and its surroundings, of which the cathedral of Dadizele, the bridge seems to lead right to it.
While I was standing on top a man in the street warned me that it was dangerous, but the bridge had already proven its firmness to us, as we had even been running on it.
The way down was a real jungle, but we got out alive ;-)