Printed by

End and beginning of an era

Image Copyright: Manfred Vollmer_Ruhr Museum

Stiftung Zollverein
Halle 6, Schacht XII [A6]
Gelsenkirchener Straße 181
45309 Essen
Tel. 0201 246810
25 years ago abandonment of mine Zollverein
On the 23. December 1986 the abandonment of the shaft facilities 1/2, 3/7/10 and XII ended the mine Zollverein's 140-years of working time and the long history of Essen's stone coal winning. At the same time the tracks were laid down for the conservation of a large part of the present World Heritage area. During a commemoration on the 23. December 2011 at 11am the foundation Zollverein refers to the historical important day, which starts the end of industrialisation in the Ruhr area and recalls the miners who worked their last shift 25 years ago.

The pictures show clearly how the miners felt when they had finished their last shift in shaft 10. Even though nobody became unemployed for many it meant losing collegial cooperation. While some miners entered early retirement the majority of the zollverein miners started working in other mines.

Already at the end of the 1970ties the Ruhrkohle AG decided to reduce the output and decrease the work force in stages. At the beginning 1984 the decision was made to close the Zollverein mine at the end of the year 1986. Instead of a big celebration 1.300 miners came together for a farewell ceremony with an ecumenical prayer in hall 5.

Image Copyright: Thomas_Willemsen_Stiftung/Zollverein

While the former workforce bid farewell to their longstanding place of work at the same time steps were taken for a re-use of the former exemplary mine facility Zollverein XII. Already in the 1970ties the Rheinische Amt für Denkmalpflege (Rhenish office for monumental perservation) had the facility in their view and evaluated it as a monument of European standing. On the 16. December 1986 the complete facility was put under monumental protection per ministerial decree from Düsseldorf. This measure pre-emptied a possible partial disassembly of the facility. Thus the presently important buildings like the coal washing with the Ruhr museum and the facility of the monumental path ZOLLVEREIN®, which was explored by 150.000 visitors this year alone, not anymore existent.

Today the Zollverein is an industrial monument, symbol of the Ruhr area, since 2001 UNESCO World Heritage Site, industrial location and tourist magnet. Even though the miners worked their last days in a monument of industry history, they probably never dreamt of such a development.

The Zeche Zollverein Schacht XII in Essen was the world's biggest and most modern coal production plant. The two architects Fritz Schupp and Martin Kremmer, who were inspired by Bauhaus, designed the industrial site, where the industrial complex is arranged in two axles, according to the principle harmonic symmetry and geometric. Thus they created with the Zollverein Schacht XII a unique model facility.

The mine was closed in 1986. Instead of demolition the county North-Rhine Westphalia decided to purchase the mine from the former Ruhrkohle AG, put it under monumental protection and to fundamentally renovate. The in 1998 founded Foundation Zollverein applied themselves to re-utilising and conserve the industrial monument. Today the whole industrial complex is an exemplary sightseeing site about mining history and development of industrial architecture in one of Europe's most important industrial regions. At the 'Ruhr area's prettiest mine' one can comprehend the modernity of the 20ties, 30ties and the development of heavy industry. Visitors of the monument path ZOLLVEREIN® can walk the way of coal in the truest sense of the word.

Image Copyright: Frank Vinken / Stiftung Zollverein

Commemoration of 25 years closure of the pit Zollverein at hall 5 with the Knappen-choir Bergwerk Consolidation.

Image Copyright: Frank Vinken / Stiftung Zollverein

The former Zollverein club member Günter Stopper, (today oldest guest-guide at the World Heritage Site Zollverein), in the middle employee representative Horst Müller and on the right the last employee representative. No responsibility is accepted for accuracy of information!

city directories