Explore #6 of ‘The Smell of Cheap Cologne Tour’
The final morning of our long weekender saw us hop yet another border, this time into France to explore the decaying remains of a power plant for a large coal mine with a past tinged by tragedy…
Siège Simon was one of the largest coalmines in the Lorraine region of France, with five mine shafts. Coal deposits were first identified in the region by geological surveys between 1817 and 1849, but construction of the mines did not commence until 1904. The shafts were built in various phases during the pre and post war eras, with the final shaft #5 sunk in 1958.
The site circa 1960
At its peak it employed up to 360,000 employees (in 1947) and extracted 58.9 million tons of coal/per annum (in 1958).
On 25 February 1985 disaster struck, when a gas explosion followed by a dust explosion at a depth of 1,050 metres in the mine killed 22 miners and left hundreds wounded. It was the worst mining disaster in the Lorraine region.
Shaft #3 closed in 1973, #4 in 1988, and the last coal was mined from the remaining shafts on 5 December 1997.
Many of the buildings and related infrastructure have since been demolished, but a few still remain.
We got in early, and spent an hour or so looking around and waiting for the light to improve. We then spent the next 45 minutes or so happily photographing the huge stripped turbine hall and its decaying and photogenic control room…
As always, click on a photo to VIEW LARGE
Here’s an old photo of the building when it was in operation.
Suddenly James came creeping up to me with that look on his face which meant: be quiet! security! He was in the turbine hall when they’d driven straight up to it and looked in through the windows, but he’d had managed to avoid being seen. We spent the next 30 minutes or so spying on the two guards as they walked their guard dog around the perimeter of our building and then returned to where they had parked right in front of us and stood around smoking and chatting. We took a shot of them with James’ phone…
After a while we decided that we didn't want to hang around any longer waiting for secca to leave, and calculated that our exit from the building should just about be out of their line of sight providing they didn't move after we left the control room and made our way to the exit point. Luckily they didn't, and we made our stealthy getaway undetected and headed off to find a nice pattiserie for breakfast… I’ll leave you with one last selfie – I was in the mood for them that morning it seems!
Thanks for coming by.