Centrale de Monceau-sur-Sambre

Being back in Belgium it’s clear this not the most exciting area to ride my motorcycle. On the other hand, Belgium does host a lot of impressive abandoned locations, so this weekend I paid a visit to the city of Charleroi, where a deactivated powerplant stands.

DSC06322I’ve never had a hard time getting into these places. Aim for a Sunday, go to a place that the powers that be have stopped caring for and you could be walking into open gates like was the case here.

DSC06329Of course that does also mean the place has been accessed by many others before, often leaving traces. So no crazy untouched finds like you might run into in more hidden places.

There was no end to the bath- and locker-rooms in the office complex. Once in the plant we found out why this was exactly needed.

Shapes and shadows in the office basement.

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I most probably wouldn’t have been able to pull off a shot like this with my old Sony NEX5 camera. The new Sony A7 manages to do a lot more with the same kind of lens, making it a worthy upgrade.

Demolition work in the plant itself meant all stairs, walkways and ladders to the upper floors were gone. Me and my lovely companion K. were looking for a way up, when a local guy exploring the place showed up and pointed us out how exactly to climb the old beams, pipes and machines to make it up there.

Turbines from times gone by were being dismantled and had their internals strewn across the floor. Compressor fans were set aside, bearing a strong resemblance to aircraft engines.

One of the older parts of the plant was host to my favorite area. Dark and complicated, with not enough light reaching it to reveal everything, it’s almost reminiscent of back alleys from Blade Runner.

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The weather showed us some extreme faces that day. While it was snowing when we were on the roof, we were treated to blue skies and sun when we emerged outside again after the descent.

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Some of the most interesting relics, were the ancient lathes and other metalworking behemoths left behind in the plant’s mechanical workshop. It’s impressive to see the size of machines required to maintain a power plant.

DSC06449A quick crossing of the river prevented by barbed wire, we drove to the other side to see the famous cooling tower. This place was definitely more frequented by fellow photographers than the plant itself.

It definitely felt special, like a temple or ancient monument, with echo bouncing of the circular walls towering above.

Next to the plant and tower there was still an abandoned house and disused gas storage tank to explore. Charleroi really does offer it all.

DSC06493As it’s K.’s absolute favorite subject, we made another extra stop at an old train repair yard. A few years ago it was still filled with old, disused locomotives, but these days only a lonely red rail car sits on the overgrown tracks. Let’s hope Belgium doesn’t clean things up too quickly so there’s something left to explore for us.

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