OF THE SLATE MUSEUM
Experience the history of the slate, from its origins to the extraction and dismantling all the way to the final product, all this combined with the change of the industrial site to the actual Museum “Musée de l’Ardoise Haut-Martelange”.
THE SLATE MINING INDUSTRY
At the end of the 18th Century, the first underground mines opened in Haut-Martelange. Soon some companies were developed, belonging to several families and which, by the end of the 19th Century, performed a yearly production of around 6 million roofing slates. While in the beginning the slate was still dismantled using a pick and a hammer, the work was eased through pneumatic machines from 1900 onwards. Around the second half of the 19th Century, steam machines were used to transfer the rock to the surface, to pump the water and to power up various machines by transmission shafts in the workshops. After 1890 all the mines and living houses in Haut-Martelange were bought by the German brothers Rother. The production facilities were modernized and the site as well as the village ‘Haut-Martelange’ received its unique architectural image. The main purpose for all these investments were the favorable outlook to possible extractions of the slate and the connection to the small gauge railway ‘Jhangeli’ to assure the export of final products and import of new materials. Around 1900, Haut-Martelange was counting around 600 workers. 4 years later, they already erected their own energy center, so that with the help of the steam machines, they could produce their own electricity. During the 1st World War, the company could continue the extraction of the slate as they were considered being important for the war. From 1930 on, the sales started to stagnate due to the economic crisis. During the 2nd World War the company employed more workers than before, a tactic to avoid Luxembourgish workers being deported. Even some German prisoners of war needed to perform their labor service at the slate mine. After 1960 however, the collapse of the Luxembourgish slate industry had slowly arrived. New materials for roofing and the import of cheap roofing slates were the main concurrency of the domestic slate. 1986 the last Luxembourgish slate mine had to be shut down.
THE BIRTH OF A MUSEUM
After the last slate mine had been closed in 1986, the whole area of Haut-Martelange had been left unexploited. To avoid that this part of Luxembourgish history will disappear, inhabitants of the surrounding villages united in 1992 and called up the association of the “friends of the slate”. This association has the target to bring the slate mines in Haut-Martelange back to life by opening it to the public. In 1993 the main parts of the village, all the industrial buildings and underground mines became public by being purchased by the municipality of Rambrouch. In 25 years, a lot of private and state money was invested to keep up and restore the ruins and buildings. The cultural and touristic use, the daily opening, and the administration of the museum as well as the development of former slate mines of Haut-Martelange are the main points the association is aiming for and have never been left out of sight. Using different programs for adults, children and adolescents, the project of opening the museum to visitors could be driven forward. In 2018, the Luxembourgish government invested 7,1 mio Euro to support the project of a daily opened slate museum with a possible visit of the underground mine to a depth of -42 meters. In Summer 2021 all works should be accomplished.
THE MUSEUM TODAY
Since 1st January 2019, the Slate Museum is managed by the new administration ‘Musée de l’Ardoise asbl’, which is composed of the Luxembourgish State, the municipality Rambrouch and the ‘Friends of the Slate asbl’. The association ‘Musée de l’Ardoise asbl‘ is managed the new administrative board consisting of representatives from:
The ministry of culture and the Historic Preservation Office
The ministry of economics/ general direction of tourism
The municipality of Rambrouch
The ‘Friends of the slate asbl’
Marco Schanck, member of the “friends of the slate”, is the elected president and Antoine Rodesch, mayor of the municipality of Rambrouch, is the vice-president.
The cultural and touristic use, the daily opening, and the administration of the museum as well as the development of former slate mines of Haut-Martelange are the main goals of the new association. Through a convention with the general direction of Tourism and the help of the municipality of Rambrouch, the financial aspects of the museum are assured. The ministry of culture, together with the historic Preservation Office are responsible for the construction works and restaurations.
Discover the history with the help of pictures, stories, anecdotes, and various documentaries!
You would love to experience the history on your own and explore the working techniques here on the site? Keep yourself informed about our guided tours and workshops organized at the Slate Museum. We are looking forward welcoming you!
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