A little history...
When the Belvedere was called "la Recette"
Until 1960, this brick building surrounding the pit-head frame was known as the "Recette aérienne", the place where the coal emerged from the mine. From here, the lift carried the empty wagons down the shaft and the wagons full of newly-mined coal came up. With no human intervention, the laden wagons were ejected out of the lift cage along a gently sloping track towards an aerial passageway, which took them down to the screening plant. Here, the contents of the wagons were tipped out, washed, sorted and calibrated. When the wagons had been emptied, they returned along the passageway towards the Recette, where a mechanical system drew them up the slight slope and into the lift. This aerial passageway was the architect's inspiration for the current Pass'erelle.
Extraction shaft number 11 (Saint-Ferdinand)
In the early days of coal extraction (evidence for which has been found in the Borinage dating back to the 13th century), the coal was taken from seams rising to the surface or not far below, but by the 16th century, the average depth of the shafts had reached 70 metres (230 feet).
No official record of the creation of shaft number 11 has been found, and the shaft may well have been dug earlier, but in 1883, according to the first records which mention it, its depth reached 418 metres (1,371 feet), with a diameter of 3.5 metres (11.5 feet). The galleries where coal was mined lay at depths of 333 metres (1,093 feet), 341 metres (1,119 feet) and 407 metres (1,335 feet). In 1950, during renovation work, the shaft was deepened to more than 1,000 metres (3,280 feet), and expanded to a diameter of 5.3 metres (17.4 feet). At this point the shaft served three further levels: 430 metres (1,411 feet), 976 metres (3,202 feet) and 1,030 metres (3,379 feet). It supplied excellent bituminous coal for the manufacture of coke until 16 July 1960, when it was closed.
The machine room
In the days when the coalmine was in operation, this building contained a KOEPE electric pulley extraction machine controlled by a Ward-Léonard generator set providing 2,400 horsepower and a capacity of 1,000 tonnes.
This system, developed in Germany by Friedrich Koepe, transmitted the movement to a round extraction cable which rolled around the groove of a large pulley and then around the wheels of the frame. A lift cage was fixed to each end of this cable, with a second flat cable attached to the floor of each cage to provide stability and avoid swinging when the cage began to move. A position indicator showed the positions of the cages, so that the machine operator could bring them to the different shaft stations, from where the galleries extended into the mine.