Saturday, 17 December 2016

Musée de la Mine - Blanzy

That the area around and west of Montceau-les-Mines and Le Creusot once was a thriving coal mining basin is only reflected in some of the place names: Montceau-les-Mines is an obvious example.

Musée de la Mine - Blanzy
Apart from those names there is not much that reminds one of the glorious days of the industrial revolution. Many towns and villages in the Charolais however had in those days such an influx of miners from Italy, Portugal and Poland (all staunch roman-catholic countries) that the old Romanesque churches soon became too small to cater for this rise in population.

Of those original churches only the bell tower is till old; often the Romanesque nave has been demolished and replaced by a longer and/or wider edifice. The coal exploitation in the area ended between 1992 and 2000.
In Blanzy however there is something more that reminds us of those days.

There is not much remaining of the many mines in the area, but Blanzy boasts an original mineshaft lift tower of the Puits Saint-Claude (exploitation: 1857-1882), and the area around it has been converted into a mining museum.
The museum appeared to be very interesting and is daily open in the summer months (not on Tuesdays, and only in the afternoon) and outside that period in weekends only.

The group managing the museum runs (among others) the machine room, it has an interesting collection of miner's lamps and organises very interesting guided tours through replicas of old mine galleries, including old and "modern" machinery, built just under ground level. This way the visitor gets a good impression of what life underground has been.

The lift tower
Blanzy is about half an hour's drive from here, and for those who are interested in industrial archaeology a visit to the museum is well worth its while.
For our own website click here.

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