The Centre Historique Minier (CHM) in Lewarde - the memory of coal-mining in northern France
In 1971, with Alexis Destruys as general secretary, a mining engineer headed the mining company Houillères du Bassin du Nord-Pas-de-Calais who, as a lover of history, was convinced that the memory of almost three centuries of coal-mining in northern France had to be preserved. He made efforts to persuade the general management that the Delloye mine in Lewarde which had just been closed, was situated only a few kilometres from Douai and in excellent condition, had to be preserved in order to make it into a place of remembrance for the mining culture of Nord-Pas-de-Calais and to keep it as the "company's memory". Alexis Destruys was commissioned to realize his project at the Delloye mine shafts, and gradually, after the mine had been closed, he awoke the machines and the inventory, including the entire archives of the mines, to new life. In this way, the mine shafts, which were in an excellent state of repair and with all their well-maintained technical machinery, became the first monumental exhibit of the continually expanding collection which today happily forms the Centre Historique Minier. The article explains the developmental history and the current activities of this important mining museum in northern France.