Triage Lavoir de Péronnes lez Binche
THE ABANDONED COAL PLANT IN BELGIUM
This is ‘Triage Lavoir de Péronnes lez Binche’. The coal sorting and washing plant was finished in 1954. Coal coming from the mines of Péronnes, Ressaix and Trivières was processed here. It was capable of processing over 3 thousand tons of coal daily. The plant was built with the assistance and appropriations of the Marshall Plan.
The nearby coal mines in Saint-Albert and Sint-Margriete were closed in 1969. This caused Triage-Lavoir to become useless, as a result it was closed down after only 15 years of active operation. Immediately after closing the facility, both machines and equipment were removed. Left was only a more than 7,500 m² concrete skeleton, which reminds me of the famous Escher drawings. There are concrete pillars, and concrete stairs with many levels, everywhere you look, you see gray, cold concrete.
The building was under threat of demolition in 2000, but on May 15, 2003, it was classified as a monument to be saved. During 2006, the Walloon Region decided to inject 50 million euros to rehabilitate the site. Eventually the facade was repaired, painted and new windows were installed. However, works stopped. In 2016 works around the building were resumed, and a new underground museum was built on the same site. The coal washing plant is supposed to host several organizations, including The General Archives of the Royalty, Royal Institute of Natural Sciences of Belgium (stores coal and fossil core-samples), the center of professional development and some private offices.
Time has passed, and the reconversion projects have failed one after the other. In total, 7.5 million in subsidies were spent on the Société Anonyme Triage Lavoir du Center, which was responsible for finding a new use for the site. In 2022 the government stopped the financing, as a result the future of the building is again uncertain. I visited ‘Triage Lavoir de Péronnes lez Binche’ in 2005, 2011 and 2017.