Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex (German Zeche Zollverein)
is a large former industrial site in the city of Essen, North
Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It has been inscribed into the
World Heritage Sites
World Heritage Sites since December 14, 2001, and is one of the
anchor points of the European Route of Industrial Heritage.
The first coal mine on the premises was founded in 1847, and mining
activities took place from 1851 until December 23, 1986. For decades,
starting in the late 1950s, the two parts of the site,
Zollverein Coking Plant (erected 1957−1961, closed on June
30, 1993), ranked among the largest of their kinds in Europe. Shaft
12, built in the New Objectivity style, was opened in 1932 and is
considered an architectural and technical masterpiece, earning it a
reputation as the “most beautiful coal mine in the world”.
1.4 Shaft 12
1.7 Becoming a monument
1.8 Ruhr Museum
4 External links
Zollverein Coal Mine was founded by Duisburg-born industrialist Franz
Haniel (1779–1868), who needed coke for steel production. Test
drilling in the Katernberg region (nowadays a suburb of Essen) had
revealed a very rich seam of coal, which was then named after the
German Customs Union (Zollverein), established in 1834. In 1847,
Haniel founded the bergrechtliche Gewerkschaft
Zollverein (a special
kind of Prussian corporation for the exploitation of natural
resources) and distributed the shares of the new company amongst the
members of his family and the owner of the land on which the future
mine would be constructed.
The sinking of Shaft 1 began on February 18, 1847, with the first
mineral coal layer being reached at a depth of 130 meters. The first
mining activities started in 1851. Shaft 2 (which was sunk at the same
time as Shaft 1) was opened in 1852. Both shafts featured visually
identical stone towers and shared a machine house. This concept was to
be adapted by many later twin-shaft coal mines.
Starting in 1857, charcoal piles were used to produce coke. In 1866,
these piles were replaced by a modern cokery and machine ovens.
In 1880, the sinking of another shaft, Shaft 3, began in neighboring
Schonnebeck. It had a steel framework to support its winding tower and
was opened in 1883. By 1890, the three shafts had already achieved an
output of one million tons, making
Zollverein the most productive of
all German mines.
Since the coal, iron and steel industries of the
Ruhr area flourished
in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the mine was extended
Between 1891 and 1896, the twin Shafts 4 and 5 were built on the edge
of Heßler (nowadays a suburb of Gelsenkirchen). The two shafts had
special shafts for extraction of coal, the transportation of Kumpels
(mine workers) and ventilation, as well as a new cokery. Another
shaft, number 6, was opened in 1897.
Zollverein had long suffered from many mining accidents due
to firedamp caused by ventilation problems. To resolve these problems,
additional (mainly ventilation-only) shafts were opened close to the
existing ones: in 1899, Shaft 7 was opened near Shaft 3, Shaft 8 near
Shafts 1 and 2 (1900), and Shaft 9 near Shaft 6 (1905).
Years of continuous renovation and further expansion followed. After
the construction of Shafts 7, 8 and 9, the old Shafts 1 and 2
(including the cokery) were renovated, and one of the twin towers was
even taken down and replaced by a modern steel framework. In 1914,
Shaft 10 and a new cokery were opened, as was Shaft 9 (which had
previously served only as a ventilation shaft).
By the eve of the First World War, Zollverein's output had risen to
approximately 2.5 million tons.
In 1920, the Haniel family, who had been the owners of Zollverein
until then, started cooperating with Phönix AG, a mining company that
subsequently took over the management of the site. Under Phönix's
management, several of the shafts were again modernized, and an
eleventh shaft was opened until 1927. When Phönix merged into
Vereinigte Stahlwerke in 1926,
Zollverein came under control of
Gelsenkirchener Bergwerks-AG (GBAG) who started closing most of the
now elderly coking plants.
Former boiler house of Shaft 12 in the typical
Bauhaus style with red
steel trusses. Today it houses the
Red Dot Design Museum.
In 1928, the GBAG voted for the construction of a totally new twelfth
shaft designed as a central mining facility. When in the shaft opened
in 1932, it had a daily output of up to 12,000 tons, combining the
output of the four other existing facilities with 11 shafts.
Schacht Albert Vögler, as the highly modern shaft was named after the
director general of the GBAG, was designed by the architects Fritz
Schupp and Martin Kremmer and quickly gained notice for its simple,
Bauhaus design with its mainly cubical buildings made of
reinforced concrete and steel trusses.
The shaft's characteristic Doppelbock winding tower in the following
years not only became the archetype of many later central mining
facilities but also became a symbol of German heavy industry.
The winding tower of Shaft 12 with inscription
Zollverein has become a
well-known symbol of
Essen and the whole Ruhr area.
Whilst this symbol may have slowly been forgotten when German heavy
industry started diminishing in the second half of the 20th century,
it was this shaft and especially its characteristic winding tower that
were to become a symbol of the Ruhr area's structural change.
Zollverein employed 6900 people and had an output of
3.6 million tons, the majority of which was contributed by the
new 12th shaft. The other shafts were not entirely closed, and some,
such as Shaft 6, even received new winding towers (though in
comparison to Shaft 12 they were far inferior). On the premises of the
old coking plant of Shafts 1, 2 and 8, a small facility of 54 new
ovens was opened with a yearly output of 200,000 tons of coke.
Zollverein survived the Second World War with only minor damage and by
1953 again placed on top of all German mines with an output of
2.4 million tons. In 1958, Shaft 1 was replaced by a totally new
building; the complete reconstruction of the 2/8/11 shaft facility
from 1960 until 1964 was again planned by Fritz Schupp. However, these
renovations were to last only until 1967, when 11 shafts were closed,
leaving Shaft 12 the only open one.
Zollverein coking plant.
Shaft 12 thus became the main supplier of the new central coking plant
from 1961 with its 192 ovens, which was again designed by Fritz
Schupp. After an expansion in the early 1970s,
among the most productive coking plants worldwide with around 1,000
workers and an output of up to 8,600 tons of coke a day on the
so-called dark side. The white side of the plant produced side
products such as ammonia, raw benzene and raw tar.
Zollverein was handed over to Ruhrkohle AG (RAG), Germany's
largest mining company.
December 23, 1986: Final working day
RAG began a further mechanization and consolidation of mining
activities. In 1974,
Zollverein was joined into a Verbundbergwerk
(joined mines) with nearby Bonifacius and Holland coal mines in Kray
and Gelsenkirchen, respectively. In 1982, Gelsenkirchen's Nordstern
coal mine also joined that Verbund.
The Flöz Sonnenschein coal layer in the north of the Zollverein
territory was the last layer in which mining activities took place on
Zollverein territory, starting in 1980. The output of Verbundbergwerk
Zollverein was approximately 3.2 million tons, but this
did not prove profitable enough and a complete closure of the
Zollverein site was voted for in 1983.
When it closed,
Zollverein was the last remaining active coal mine in
Essen. Whereas the coking plant remained open until June 30, 1993,
mining activities in Shaft 12 stopped on December 23, 1986. Although
it is the central shaft of the Cultural Heritage site, Shaft 12 cannot
be visited as it continues being used as the water drainage for the
Ruhr area together with Shaft 2.
Becoming a monument
As with most sites of the heavy industries that had been closed down,
Zollverein was predicted to face a period of decay. Surprisingly, the
North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) bought the coal mine territory
from the RAG immediately after it had been closed down in late 1986,
and declared Shaft 12 a heritage site. This went along with the
obligation to preserve the site in its original state and to minimize
the effects of weathering. In 1989, the city of
Essen and NRW founded
Zollverein Schacht XII that should take care for the
site and which was replaced by the Stiftung
Foundation) in 1998.
After it had been closed down in 1993, the coking plant was planned to
be sold to China. The negotiations failed and it was subsequently
threatened to be demolished. However, another project of the state of
NRW set the coal mine on a list of future exhibition sites resulting
in first gentle modifications and the cokery also became an official
heritage site in 2000.
On its 25th session in December 2001, the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared both the sites
of Shafts 12 and 1/2 and the cokery a World Heritage Site.
The Ruhr Museum in the former Coal Washery, located on the UNESCO
World Heritages Site Zollverein, is the regional museum of the Ruhr
Area. In its permanent exhibition the Ruhr Museum presents, with over
6,000 exhibits, the fascinating history of one of the largest
industrial regions of the world, from the formation of coal 300
million years ago to the current structural change towards the Ruhr
Metropolis. The Ruhr Museum has extensive collections on the geology,
archaeology, industrial and social history as well as photography of
the Ruhr Area. In addition to its permanent exhibition, the Ruhr
Museum regularly shows special exhibitions and offers a diverse
programme with workshops, guided tours, excursions, lectures, movie
nights, audio guides and the museum bag for families.
Historic former coal mine in the city of
Essen in North Rhine
Photographic impression of the coking plant which had been a
“no-go-area” until mid-1993. The artificial channel is opened for
ice skating in the winter.
Rear view of shaft 12
Escalator to former coal washing plant
Escalator to former coal washing plant
^ "European Route of Industrial Heritage". En.erih.net. Archived from
the original on 2012-02-05. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
^ Industriedenkmal-Stiftung NRW. "Industriedenkmal-Stiftung Denkmale
Zollverein Geschichte". Industriedenkmal-stiftung.de.
Most sections of this article are translations from the German
Wikipedia. The versions used can be found under the following links:
,  and . The original authors of the German-language version
can be found here .
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Zollverein Coal Mine industrial
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