Industrial Heritage Sites in Western Europe
September 2, 2016 6:46 PM   Subscribe

I will be leaving Bastogne on the morning of 9/26 and arriving in Bruges/Brugge on the evening of 9/28 and have no plans yet for the time in between. I will have access to a car and would like to tour some industrial or industrial heritage sites during that time. I am willing to drive a good couple hundred miles out of my way to do so. Do you have any suggestions for me?

By industrial / industrial heritage sites, I mean places where heavy industry either is or was practiced and which are open for tours or general poking around. A canonical example of such a place might be the Völklingen Ironworks in Völklingen, Germany.

Völklingen is not at all out of the question (although it is, perhaps, at the upper end of the distance range I have in mind) and I may well end up there.

But if any of you know of anything closer, cooler, or [the holy grail] that is an active heavy industrial site that allows tours, I would be very glad to hear about it!
posted by Juffo-Wup to Travel & Transportation around Aachen, Germany (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: To be clear, the entire trip from Bastogne to Brugge will be taken by car regardless of the intermediate destinations.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 6:50 PM on September 2, 2016

The mining museum in Lewarde France is on the site of a former mine.
posted by brujita at 8:12 PM on September 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

North Rhine Westphalia, Germany has three industrial heritage sites:

Zollverein coal mine complex (Essen)

Zollern II/IV Colliery (Dortmund)

LVR Industrial Museum Hendrichs Drop Forge (Solingen)

Essen, Dortmund, and Solingen are less than an hour's drive from each other. Solingen is the southernmost city, and about 225km from Bastogne
posted by BadgerDoctor at 9:01 PM on September 2, 2016

Best answer: Looking into these regional industrial heritage routes the Saarland-Lorraine-Luxemburg route is not that far from Brugge.
posted by jouke at 11:36 PM on September 2, 2016

Best answer: The Ronquières inclined plane is a very impressive piece of canal engineering which should be close to your route.
posted by Azara at 2:39 AM on September 3, 2016

If you follow BadgerDoctor's suggestions, you should also take a slight detour to the German Mining Museum in Bochum.
posted by tinkletown at 2:56 AM on September 3, 2016

I loved visiting the blast furnace complex in Landschaftspark Duisburg, especially in the evening. The way they light it up is really worth seeing.
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:55 AM on September 3, 2016

Best answer: Not sure if this fits the bill but there are some options in the Netherlands. You can easily visit the polders, dikes and canals in Waterland by car (or bike), as well as windmills, locks and more. This is a nice tour.

The Tropenmuseum was formelry the museum of the Dutch East and West Indies trading companies, focusing on tropical cultures. There is also the Scheepvaartmuseum.

You can also see and tour the steam pumps that were built to replace windmills in the draining of the land.
posted by Brittanie at 5:22 AM on September 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: On the topic of steam pumps, I was at the Stoomgemaal in Lemmer (Friesland) recently and the tour was excellent.
posted by rubbish bin night at 11:43 AM on September 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Great suggestions from everyone, thanks!

Many of the Netherlands' water-related suggestions were already on the agenda for other segments of the trip and were, indeed, very cool. (One of the major purposes of this trip was to visit Friesland, as that is where some of my ancestors lived before they moved to the US.)

We ended up visiting the Ronquières inclined plane. As fans of the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, it seemed almost mandatory once I found out about its existence from Azara. It was actually closed/drained at the time for maintenance, which was kind of cool to see. It had a rather extensive visitor center which was a curious combination of interesting/informative exhibits and charmingly, almost embarrassingly kitschy ones. As a whole though, it was very fun and interesting.

We had a great time wandering around Fond-de-Gras (Luxembourg) and also took a brief trip through an old steel/ironworks (also in Luxembourg) being converted into a residential/commercial/etc development, thanks to jouke and your links.

The maritime museum in Wilhelmshaven, Germany was also excellent both in its historical exhibits and in the surface ships and submarine available there for tours.

Thanks again, everyone! Great suggestions; very helpful.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 3:20 PM on October 4, 2016

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