Rue du Tordoir, 62590 Oignies.
A1 Lille-Paris, exit 17.1 Site Du 9-9bis.
Mid-JUN to mid-SEP Wed-Sun 15.
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Le 9-9bis, Rue du Tordoir, 62590 Oignies, Tel: +33-321-08-08-00.
Fosse n°2 du Groupe de Oignies, Rue Emile Zola, 62590 Oignies.
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|inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Located in the heart of the Nord-Pas de Calais coalfield.
The name Site Du 9-9bis (Mine 9/9b) is probably a joke. The mining area in northern France has a huge number of mine sites and slag heaps, and it seems at some point they stopped to name them, instead they just numbered them. So this is shaft number 9 and nearby shaft number 9b, orginally named Fosse n° 9 - 9 bis, and a little to the west is Terril 110 (slag heap 110). There are two identical buildings for the engines with identical steel headframes for the two shafts. More than 60 years of mining, 4.8 million tonnes of coal brought up the two shafts, at its heyday the mine had 2,500 employees. Mining is abandoned for decades, and the whole site was transformed into infrastructure, like walking and mountain biking trails on the heap, the concert hall Métaphone, the music recording studio Les Studios du 9-9bis 9-9bis is an exceptional mining site, and it is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List together with the other mines in the area. And actually it has a mining museum which includes several restored mine buildings. The site offers free guided tours during the summer months, all you have to do is reserve online.
The tour starts at the main entrance, the first stop is the showers. Actually this is a typical locker room of a colliery, which is named salle des pendus (hanging room) in French. There are benches, where the miners change their clothes. There are no lockers as you might be used, actually there were iron chains, and the miners hung their clothes on hooks and hoisted them up to the ceiling with these chains. Then they locked it at a hook at the bench. In other words, they changed their clothes before going into the mine, and after coming back, the normal clothes were hung at the ceiling while they were underground, the working clothes while they were at home. The obvious benefit of such a hanging system, is that the clothes had no enclosing box, and they were at the highest and thus warmest point of the romm. As a result, they dried completely before the next shift, both sweat and water from the colliery evaporated. The hanging room is quite large, it has 800 m² and is thus ideal for temporary exhibitions.
The next room contains the actual showers, and important element of any colliery, as miners came out of the mine completely black from the coal dust, and they wanted to avoid bringing the dirt home. So they actually showered daily after work, while other areas of the population had to go great lengths to make a bath once a week possible. The former Boiler Rooms now offer spaces dedicated to companies and hosting seminars. This part of the building was transformed into a cultural center, and offers space for various events.
The Machine Building on the other side of the road still houses the iconic Shaft 9 engines. This building is the essential heritage element of 9-9bis. Since 2018, the engine works again, ready to lift coal and miners from the shaft. The two buildings on the shafts still have their headframes. So the equipment is shown and even demonstrated on the tours.
A second tour is offered into the underground gallery of the Fosse n°2 du Groupe de Oignies. This mine is located 1.4 km to the north and operated by the Site Du 9-9bis. They also offer tours into the underground mine tunnel, which are also free, but unfortunately they are offered only rarely. The guide is a former miner and enthusiast from the association Friends of the mine. This tour is more interesting as it shows a realistic mine tunnel of a colliery, with barrel vaulted support, mine train, air condition tubes, machinery and