VIEILLE MONTAGNE – RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT – NEWS
* VIEILLE MONTAGNE MUSEUM TO BE OPENED IN KELMIS
* Rampill Ore-Dressing Mill in Nenthead is due for demolition this year (2017). We hope that representative samples of its structure can be saved for posterity, particularly from the zinc roof.
* The Gohltal Museum in Kelmis, Moresnet, Belgium, will be moving to a new home – the former Vieille Montagne offices.
- * Ideas are germinating for a one-day VM event in Nenthead in Cumbria, England, this year.
- * Funding is being sought for an archivist to catalogue the hundreds of shelf metres of Vieille Montagne files in the State Archives in Belgium.
- * The Vieille Montagne display is on view at the Italian ‘Barracks’ at Nenthead. (See Nenthead Mines Conservation Society website for opening times)
- * A hole in the ground has appeared outside the LVR Museum of the Rhineland, a former zinc works in Oberhausen, Germany, providing a good opportunity for some on-site industrial archaeology.
* Documentary investigation is ongoing into the VM trials in Welsh mines around 1896-1900.
- * Many of the Italians and some of the Germans who worked at Nenthead in Cumbria from 1903-1915 have been identified from church and civil records, an excellent start for international family history research
VIEILLE MONTAGNE MUSEUM TO BE OPENED IN KELMIS
The new 'Museum Vieille Montagne' (MVM) in Kelmis, Belgium, will open its doors to the public for the first time on Saturday 15th September from 2pm to 7pm with tours and lectures, and open again on Sunday 16th from 2pm to 7pm, when additional entertainment will be a theatrical performance based on the book 'ZINK'.
Visitors will learn about the unique neutral territory of Moresnet, the Vieille Montagne Zinc Company with its mines around the world, and the Altenburg Mine on which the VM was founded.
The Museum is housed in the former directorate building on the main street in Kelmis. The building has been beautifully refurbished with its stunning domed roof re-clad in zinc - of course.
More details will be published as they become available.
CAN YOU HELP?
Somewhere in England a Vieille Montagne steam locomotive is being restored and the owner would like to find out about its history.
What is known so far about the loco is that it was built in 1890, it worked for a few years for the East Brussels Tram Company, it was then bought by the VM to work at Angleur. The loco was given the name Lucie and the number 8. Can anyone supply any more information?
The former Vieille Montagne Directorate office in Kelmis, Belgium
Eighteen months later the next phase in the development of what has become ‘Vieille Montagne Heritage’ took place in the town of Kelmis, in the former tiny neutral territory of Moresnet, sandwiched between Belgium, Holland and Prussia.
At the Saturday morning meeting about twenty delegates from Belgium, Germany, England, Holland, France, and Sweden were seated around the table. The State University of Liege, Belgium, was represented, the Maison de la Metallurgie et de l’Industrie de Liege, Belgium, Nenthead Mines Conservation Society of Cumbria in England, the Industrial Museum of the Rhineland, Germany, the Bergisches Museum of Bensberg, in Germany, the local authority of Kelmis, and ‘VM Building Solutions’ with its representatives from France, Germany and Britain. A group of archive researchers also attended to express their interest in examining the many metres of VM documents held in the Belgian State Archives.
‘Vieille Montagne Heritage’ was established with a committee consisting of a French Chairman, German and English Vice-chairmen, a Belgian Treasurer and Belgian Secretary – a miniature United Nations.
The meeting was recorded by Belgian national television and the local press, after which the contractor for the zinc roof, to be installed as part of the renovation work at the new museum, was interviewed on TV with a backdrop of the roller banner produced for the 120th Anniversary of the VM at Nenthead in Cumbria.
Guided tour around the VM Directorate office and site of zinc works, Kelmis, Belgium
That evening delegates were privileged to meet the mayor of Kelmis and to enjoy a meal at a restaurant in nearby Aachen, just across the border into Germany.
On Sunday 18th there was a talk by author Marc Bressant, to conference delegates and residents of Kelmis, on his fictional work (at present available only in French) about Neutral Moresnet, called ‘So Small a Territory’. The theme being the fact that Moresnet is a minute piece of land ‘the size of a large farm’, surrounded by Belgium, Holland and Prussia, that remained ‘neutral’ until after the First World War.
Vieille Montagne Heritage Chairman, Roger Balthus, with author Marc Bressant
A couple of small spin-offs were:
1. Contact has been made and much information exchanged between a former manager of the Zinkgruvan mine, not far from the Ammeberg mine in Sweden, where zinc ore was produced for shipping to Belgium, and the plant manager of the works at Balen in Belgium where that zinc was roasted.
OTTO Otto Martin Torell, a Swedish mining engineer who worked at Nenthead in Cumbria from 1897, when the VM first arrived, to 1900.
2. The identity of a Swedish mine engineer has been discovered to add to the list of foreign workers at Nenthead in Cumbria, England.
The Foreigners in the Hills