Association Cooperative Zélandaise de Carbonisation
THE ABANDONED FACTORY IN THE NETHERLANDS
‘Association Cooperative Zélandaise de Carbonisation’, or in short ‘ACZC Sluiskil’ closed its doors in August 1999. It was abandoned after 88 years of producing coke for steel factories in Belgium, France and South-Holland. This factory was the first cokes plant in The Netherlands.
For the Dutch region, Zeeuws-Vlaanderen coke factory ‘ACZC’ was the first non-food industry in the area. In 1929 a factory, producing fertilizer from the by-product of ACZC, is built next to the coke plant. This factory from an Italian company is named ‘Compagnie Néerlandaise de l’Azote’. The name changed in 1962 to ‘Nederlandse Stikstof Maatschappij’ and later in 1979 to ‘Hydro Agri’.
Van den Kerckhoven steam engine
In the electricity hall of the former cokes plant from 1912 stands a steam engine, build by the machine builders Van den Kerckhoven from Gent in Belgium. The machine and the marble panel are protected by different organizations.
The company suffered from many problems in its life. During the first years of production, the coal supplies ran out because of the First World War. Also, the Second World War gave the company big concerns. The allies bombed the electricity hall and consequently the company had to shut down. Later in 1945 all machinery was taken to Germany by the retreating German troops. New production started eventually five years later. Since then the future looked brighter, the economy went up and ‘ACZC Sluiskil’ made good profit. However, the crisis in the steel industry in the early 1990s changed it. In the last years, the coke factory only provided a local steel plant in Zelzate.
In 2004 ‘Heron BV’ bought the site and uses the site to recycle polluted ground. Therefore, the company demolished most of the former coke plant. Although the steam engine room and some empty halls were left untouched. In 2010 the steam engine is moved to the Industrial Museum in Sas van Gent, on the other side of the canal. I visited the old factory ‘Association Cooperative Zélandaise de Carbonisation Sluiskil’ in 2005.