Filature De Leie


Discover the captivating tale of the abandoned Filature De Leie in Ronse, Belgium, a silent witness to a century of history. Founded in 1911 by Jacques Van Ex–Toelen, this old spinning mill stood as a symbol of industrial prowess. Today, the mill is a cultural center.

Amidst the turmoil of the First World War, the mill transformed into German barracks, known as the ‘Herzog Albrecht Kazerne’, echoing with the echoes of horses hooves and adorned with heroic murals. The conflict stripped the machinery away, sending it to Germany.

Teintureries Belges

In 1922, the mill changed hands to Oscar Thomaes, reborn as ‘Teintureries Belges’. Its fortunes flourished until the aftermath of the Second World War, thriving until the early 1980s. The immense production areas housed spinning, weaving, and dyeing divisions. The complex was renamed ‘Filature De Leie NV’ in 1992, and later ‘De Nieuwe Leie’, the mill’s journey took a downward turn. The last owner, Flotex, ceased production in 2000 after a devastating flood submerged the site.

Yet, amidst its decline, the abandoned walls found a new purpose. The local youth breathed life into its emptiness, transforming it into a canvas for graffiti art. Every inch of space became a museum of expression, a testament to resilience in adversity.

Cultural center

During a visit in 2006, I photographed the site with its iron skeleton and saw-tooth roofs. The once-bustling halls lay in ruin, with only remnants of rotting textiles and abandoned trolleys hinting at its former glory. However, hope flickered as the site underwent a transformation in 2004, cleaned and reborn as a cultural center in 2008.

Built 1911
Abandoned 2002
Reconverted 2007
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