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Zeche Ruhr

“Like many mines, Zeche Ruhr contained changing rooms with hundreds of metal baskets hanging from chains. Personal belongings had been left behind, as if the miners had to leave in a hurry. The long corridors in the office building are quiet and the once green plants are desiccated and forsaken.”

Jan Stel, Zeche XL-01

Zeche Ruhr-01

Jan Stel, Zeche XL-02

Zeche Ruhr-02

Jan Stel, Zeche Xl-03

Zeche Ruhr-03

Jan Stel, Zeche Xl-04

Zeche Ruhr-04

Jan Stel, Zeche XL-05

Zeche Ruhr-05

Until its closure in 2008, this was one of the last active coal mines in the Ruhr area. In 1904, the first plans were made for the drilling of a double-shaft system. Problems in land acquisition and settlements delayed the actual start until 1914. Then World War I broke out and further construction works were suspended. At last, in 1927 the building of the first shaft was possible. The second shaft was completed in 1934. Towards the end of World War II the mine was damaged by the artillery fire of the advancing Allied troops. Again the operation had to be suspended. After successful reconstruction, a new company was established which continued the long-term development of the mine. Full automation led to an increase in the capacity to nearly 3 million tons of coal per year.

In 2008, the government announced the closure of the mine. At this time about 3,000 workers became unemployed. Around 2012 the shafts and surrounding buildings were demolished.

“Because of the demolition works, the security and the massive size of this mine, we didn’t have the opportunity to fully explore all of its buildings. The halls with the hanging baskets were amazing to photograph and it was a real challenge to find the right perspective. Long shutter times were needed because the weather outside was dark and rainy. Despite the fact that we could not see everything, I have taken so many photographs of this location that a selection of the best ones alone could easily fill an entire photo book.”