In day to day








Belgium has applied for four historic sites related to coal mining to be put on the World Heritage List: the Grand-Hornu, Bois-du-Luc, the Bois du Cazier and Blegny-Mine.

These four sites mined the coal field which extends from Nord-Pas-de-Calais to the Aachen valley. They cover the same chronological period, from the early 19th to the end of the 20th centuries. They offer a condensed insight into all aspects of mining, and its technical and social heritage. They also complement one another. Blegny and le Bois du Cazier cover the “work and workers” component, whilst le Grand-Hornu and Bois-du-Luc relate to the “social” component, illustrating through their architecture the relations of power and social organisation.

The group consisting of four mining sites fully complies with UNESCO’s criterion II: “to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town planning or landscape design”.

In the technological, social and architectural fields, it represents a cultural melting pot that assimilated elements of very diverse origins which have had a considerable influence in Europe and throughout the world.
From a technological viewpoint, the mines, which were active since the Middle Ages, integrated techniques from across Europe, notably the British processes which brought about the Industrial Revolution. But the Walloon collieries became an international model, copied notably in Russia and China, and its mining colleges have trained engineers from all over the world.

In social terms, the Walloon collieries are multicultural centres, owing to the immigration of the Italian, Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Russian and Turkish labour force.
Architecturally speaking, the two sites of Grand-Hornu and Bois-du-Luc embody the major international trends in architecture and urban development.

This mining heritage consisting of these four sites also fulfils criterion IV: “to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history”.

It is in fact a microcosm of the Industrial Revolution, in both its technological and social aspects. The various stages of technological development are all represented, together with the evolution of social relations, from paternalism to workers’ struggles. Furthermore, redevelopment of the four sites has been achieved in different ways, which illustrate various possibilities for promoting heritage.

Through their chronology and content, the Walloon collieries form a unique example and fill a gap in world industrial heritage.

Robert Halleux


Le Grand-Hornu

Ecomusée du Bois-du-Luc

Le Bois du Cazier