Galerie de portraits dans le hall du musée Les Mineurs Wendel. © Musée Le Mineurs Wendel

History of the Wendel headquarters

Vue aérienne du siège Wendel. © Gilbert FRIDERICH

The first piece of coal was mined in Petite-Rosselle in June 1856, at the Saint-Charles pit two kilometres away which would then become the ‘Wendel headquarters’. After this discovery, Emile Vuillemin – consulting engineer for the Compagnie Anonyme des Mines de Stiring founded by Charles de Wendel and Georges Hainguerlot – suggested carrying out new surveys in the area towards the south to expand operations which were limited to the north by the border.

Several pits were subsequently dug between 1862 and 1889: Wendel 1, Wendel 2, Vuillemin 1 and Vuillemin 2 (whose headframe can still be seen at the site entrance). The Wendel headquarters came under the control of the company Les Petits-fils de François de Wendel et Cie in 1889. The coal produced was primarily used to fire the Wendel steelworks.

After the Second World War, the Wendel headquarters was enlisted in the battle for coal by helping to triple Lorraine production in less than ten years. In 1946, the Wendel headquarters were attached to public company Houillères du bassin de Lorraine as part of the process of nationalising all French coal mines.

The Wendel 3 pit was dug in 1952, and in 1958 was equipped with the cutting-edge wash house 3. The Wendel 1 and 2 pits were also modernised and equipped with new headframes.

After 1960, the coal recession hit hard. However, the company modernised wash house 1-2 in 1962 by creating a new module on top of the former wash house, adapted to the existing equipment. Operations and investment continued up until 1986.

The headquarters ceased activities in 1986, but some of the site’s infrastructure continued to be used up until 1989 to serve other pits in the Wendel franchise that were still in operation. The Wendel 1 pit was closed in 1989, Wendel 2 in 1992 and Wendel 3 in 2001.