The Four Lifts on the Canal du Centre in Belgium

May 13, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

The four lifts on the Canal du Centre in Belgium is a remarkable World Heritage Site and a great industrial accomplishment. They are located near Charleroi, La Louviere in Wallonia, just north of the French border.

These lifts are made to transport boat to a lower or higher level. Lifts were used instead of locks due to the altitude in a short distance.

The lifts date back from 1888. They were needed in this poor area of Belgium in the time of the industrial revolution. Coal mines were exploited in the area of Charleroi, roads weren't very special and people needed a means of transport for the coal. A canal was build and the lifts were designed to overcome the differences in hight. Over the 4 lifts the water rises 66 meters.  The lifts are industrial heritage and the iron joints are quiet common for great buildings from this era. They reminded me of similar structures in Petersborough in England or the much more modern Falkirk Wheel between Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland.

The operations of the lifts seems quit easy. The vessel enter's  a large container. A similar container - also full of water - is on a counter balance and after a switch of button the high container lowers and the low container rises. After this movement the container is opened and the vessel can continue its journey.

I have visited these lifts early one morning, you will find beautiful blue hour and golden hour photos in this gallery. They were listed as a World Heritage Site in 1998.  The usage of the lifts is now strictly recreational. In the area near Thieu you can see a modern boat lift that replaced the four lifts by one gigantic lift.

 


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