Closed down in 1986, the tall towers Stockton that house the massive winding gear for the deep pit still stand, as do the associated buildings where the administrators and office workers were housed and staff could eat and socialise. The mine head is faithfully preserved and, seeing the ominously heavy rails Stockton and coal wagons, then looking beyond to the shaft diving into the earth, reminds us that this was an even more dangerous life than that experienced by those who still work the big open cuts of Stockton and Appalachia in the Stockton. Being enlightened employers for their time, the Krupps took good care of the miners and their families. Our social get together was in the meeting hall that they built for them.
Map of Stockton – Where is Stockton? – Stockton Map English – Stockton Maps for Tourist Photo Gallery
It was, for me, an occasion of odd contrasts. Since visiting the Villa Hügel my thoughts had turned to Essen’s role in the Second World War, including the realisation that I’d walked the floors of a surviving house where Adolf Hitler was more than once a welcome visitor. Then the entertainment for our conference dinner was supplied by a local ‘trad jazz’ ensemble that pretty much played a 1940s American repertoire, emphasising the swing and dance music of the Glenn Miller Orchestra! No Marlene Dietrich or Brecht and Weil here – I guess it’s not that easy to dance to ‘Underneath the Arches’, or the music of Mahagonny, and it certainly wasn’t a Strauss crowd.
It’s intriguing that, while the Second World War British bombers blew the associated coal coking plant (necessary for steel production) to bits, they left the Zollverein mine standing and untouched. Why? One reason we were given is that the victorious Allies did not want to repeat the mistake of 191819, when many Germans died from starvation and cold. Through the winter of 1945-46, continued production from the Zollverein mine meant that thermal coal was available for heating.
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