Zeche P is part of an abandoned coal mine in the Ruhr area of western Germany. The first shaft was sunk in the 1930s, and mining operations were expanded to included a second shaft in the 1980s. This area of Germany was a prolific coal-producing region at end of the 20th Century. This mine was closed in the late 2000s, when the headstock and many of the buildings were demolished.
Zeche P is the remains of the “waschkaue“, or washrooms, of the coal mine. The washroom area was divided into three sections that the workers would pass through at the start and end of each shift. At the end of the day, they would first enter the “Schwarzkaue” (black room), where they would remove their coal-covered work clothes. They would then enter the shower area. After this they would enter the “Weißkaue” (white room), where they would retrieve their street clothes and their belongings.
Their personal clothes and belongings were stored in cages/baskets, called “kaue” in the white room area. Once the belongings were inside the cage, the worker would hoist their cage to the ceiling out of reach. The chain was locked in place in a numbered holster, which was then secured by a padlock. The miners clothes would be safe in this cage until the end of their shift.
We spent an hour in the “cage room”, but nothing else of interest was seen in the rest of the site. The site of hundreds of cages, suspended at different heights in such a massive hall, was truly a surreal sight to behold. A gentle breeze caused some cages to move slightly, which made photography in this dark room quite frustrating. The bright light from the windows made these photographs quite a challenge from certain angles. One room was almost pitch black. With the aid of some carefully placed candles we were able to take some atmospheric photographs, to try something a little different.
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