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The Four Lifts on the Canal du Centre and their Environs, La Louvière and Le Roeulx (Hainaut)

The Four Lifts on the Canal du Centre and their Environs, La Louvière and Le Roeulx (Hainaut)

The four hydraulic boat-lifts on this short stretch of the historic Canal du Centre are industrial monuments of the highest quality. Together with the canal itself and its associated structures, they constitute a remarkably well-preserved and complete example of a late-19th-century industrial landscape. Of the eight hydraulic boat-lifts built at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, the only ones in the world which still exist in their original working condition are these four lifts on the Canal du Centre.

Les quatre ascenseurs du canal du Centre et leur site, La Louvière et Le Roeulx (Hainaut)

Les quatre ascenseurs hydrauliques pour bateaux, regroupés sur un court segment de l’historique canal du Centre, constituent des monuments industriels de la plus haute qualité. Avec le canal lui-même et ses structures associées, ils offrent un exemple remarquablement bien préservé et complet d’un paysage industriel de la fin du XIXe siècle. Des huit ascenseurs hydrauliques à bateaux édifiés à cette époque et au début du XXe siècle, les quatre ascenseurs du canal du Centre sont les seuls au monde subsistant dans leur état originel de fonctionnement.

المصاعد الأربعة لقناة الوسط ومحيطها، اللا لوفيير واللورو (هينولت)

تشكّل المصاعد المائية الأربعة المخصصة للسفن والمجمّعة في مساحة ضيقة من قناة الوسط التاريخية نصباً صناعية رفيعة المستوى. وهي تعطي، إلى جانب القناة والبنى المرتبطة بها، مثلاً مكتملاً ومصوناً على نحو رائع عن المنظر الصناعي الذي كان سائداً في أواخر القرن التاسع عشر. فمن أصل المصاعد المائية الثمانية المخصصة للسفن والمشيّدة بين تلك الحقبة ومطلع القرن العشرين، تُعتبر المصاعد الأربعة لقناة الوسط المصاعد الوحيدة في العالم التي لا تزال تعمل في حالتها الأصلية.

source: UNESCO/ERI

拉卢维耶尔和勒罗尔克斯中央运河上的四座船舶吊车(艾诺)

在古老的中央运河这一小段上,有四座液压船舶吊车,是终极水平的工业杰作,加上运河本身及其附属设施,构成了一幅19世纪末的工业全景图,保存十分完好。19世纪末20世纪初共有八座液压船舶吊车,但是只有在中央运河上的这四座仍然保持着原始工作形态。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Четыре судоподъемника на канале Дю-Сантр и их окружение, Ля-Лувьер и Ле-Рейкс, провинция Эно

Четыре гидравлических подъемника для судов на этом коротком участке исторического канала Дю-Сантр являются выдающимися памятниками инженерного искусства. Вместе с самим каналом и связанными с ним сооружениями они представляют cобой очень хорошо сохранившийся, уникальный пример промышленного ландшафта конца XIX в. Эти четыре подъемника, оставшиеся из восьми, построенных в конце XIX - начале XX вв. – единственные в мире, которые все еще существуют в оригинальном виде и поддерживаются в рабочем состоянии.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Los cuatro elevadores del Canal del Centro y sus alrededores, La Louvií¨re y Le Roeulx (Hainault)

Construidos en un corto tramo del histórico Canal del Centro, estos cuatro elevadores hidrí¡ulicos para embarcaciones son monumentos industriales de una calidad excepcional. Junto con el propio canal y las estructuras conexas, ofrecen un ejemplo muy completo de paisaje industrial de fines del siglo XIX en excelente estado de conservación. De los ocho elevadores de este tipo construidos en esa época y a comienzos del siglo XX, los del Canal del Centro son los únicos del mundo que se conservan en su estado de funcionamiento primigenio.

source: UNESCO/ERI

中央運河にかかる4機の水力式リフトとその周辺のラ・ルヴィエール及びル・ルー(エノー)
歴史的な中央運河にある四つの船舶用水力式リフトは、高度の能力を誇る工学上の記念碑である。運河自体と運河に関連する構造物と並んで、これらのリフトは良好に保存されてきた19世紀末の産業景観の完全な例証である。それは経済と産業が急速に膨張しつつある19世紀ヨーロッパにおける、科学技術としての水力工学の著しい発展の成果であるとともに、運河建設に対する工学技術の応用の頂点を示すものでもあった。

source: NFUAJ

Vier liften op het Canal du Centre en hun omgeving, La Louvière en Le Roeulx (Henegouwen)

De vier hydraulische scheepsliften op dit korte gedeelte van het historische Canal du Centre zijn industriële monumenten van de hoogste kwaliteit. Samen met het kanaal en de bijbehorende structuren vormen ze een opmerkelijk goed bewaard gebleven en compleet voorbeeld van een laat-19e-eeuws industrieel landschap. De liften getuigen van de opmerkelijke waterbouwontwikkelingen in die tijd en gelden als hoogtepunt van de kanalenbouwtechnologie. Van de acht hydraulische scheepsliften gebouwd aan het einde van de 19e en het begin van de 20e eeuw, zijn de vier liften op het Canal du Centre de enige ter wereld die nog bestaan in hun originele werkende staat.

Source: unesco.nl

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The Four Lifts on the Canal du Centre and their Environs, La Louvière and Le Roeulx (Hainaut) (Belgium) © M & G Therin-Weise
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

The four hydraulic boat-lifts on the short stretch of the historic Canal du Centre are industrial monuments of the highest quality. Together with the Canal itself and its associated structures, they constitute a remarkably well preserved and complete example of a highly technical industrial landscape at the end of the 19th century.

The construction of the Canal du Centre to ensure the liaison between the Meuse and the Escaut basins was part of the opening-up programme of Hainaut, a rich industrial region, notably coal, but with very few natural navigable waterways for coal export. Digging work began in 1884 and the opening to navigation took place in 1917.

At the very beginning of the project, the architects were confronted with a two-fold problem: the large distance in height over a short distance and the small quantity of water available. The most adapted technique to overcome these constraints was that of boat lifts, developed by English engineers using only hydraulic power.

Over a distance of 7 km, a series of 4 boat lifts, unique worldwide, were built, each one covering a change in level of 15 to 16 meters. The stretch is bordered by a series of art works including two fixed bridges and two lift or swing bridges. The property also comprises the ancient lock No.1 of Thieu, today disaffected, as well as three buildings housing the necessary hydraulic machinery for the good functioning of the lifts. Also, there are several two-storey houses to accommodate the work staff.  

In 1911, at the time of the construction of the canal, a tree-planting programme on the banks was initiated. Various types of trees were planted: American elm and white ash, oak, poplar, maple and sycamore, with copses of elder, sometimes mixed with willow, silver birch and false acacia. A variety of  species (black pine, false acacia, maple, hazel, elderberry and popular) were planted around the lifts. Today, the most common species are lime, maple, chestnut and ash.

Of the eight hydraulic boat-lifts constructed at that time and at the beginning of the 20th century, the four lifts of the Canal du Centre are the only ones worldwide remaining in their functioning original state and still in use.

The canal that can accommodate 300 ton boats is currently used for leisure navigation.

Criterion (iii) : The boat-lifts of the Canal du Centre bear exceptional testimony to the remarkable hydraulic engineering developments of 19th-century Europe.

Criterion (iv) : These boat-lifts represent the apogee of engineering technology to the construction of canals.

Integrity

Even although it is now used for leisure navigation, the Canal du Centre has always been in use, ensuring its permanence. The lifts are still hydraulically powered and the art works (swing bridges, lifts etc.) have not been modernized and still function according to the original techniques.

Authenticity

The degree of authenticity is very high in all respects. The lifts have not undergone any modification since they were built, and their operating machinery is in its original form and in perfect working order. Similarly, the other components of this industrial landscape have been preserved and maintained in their original form, with the minimum of modifications resulting from minor technological developments. The brick and stone buildings are well maintained and sympathetically restored where necessary. The same goes for the metal parts: as the riveting technique was not used in Belgium, a foreign society was called upon to ensure identical restoration work following damage caused by a barge.

Protection and management

The Canal du Centre and the lifts were classified by decree of 22 September 1992. A second decree of 1 February 2002 extended the classification to the machinery buildings of Lifts 2 and 3, including equipment, and the adjacent staff housing. The same decree established a protection zone around the Canal. Furthermore, all the classified elements listed on the Exceptional Properties of the Walloon Region, have the highest level of protection foreseen by Walloon legislation. The trees alongside the Canal have been inscribed on the list of remarkable trees and hedges in 1995.

The Canal du Centre and its boat-lifts are public property. They fall under the competence of the Operational Directorate General of the Waterways Department of Walloon with the functioning, maintenance and management being ensured by the staff of this body.

Engineers possess the original plans to guide decisions regarding conservation and management issues. Tourism enhancement is the responsibility of the « Hainaut Waterways » Association depending on the Hainaut Province.

Following the decision of the Walloon Government on 25 August 2011 to provide the Walloon sites inscribed on the World Heritage List with a management plan, a Pilot Committee, Scientific Committee and a Management Committee have been created.