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Minett Mash-Up: Episode 21 – Robyn Wehles @ Minett Park Fond-de-Gras

Living industrial history in the middle of nature

 

In our podcast, the year 2024 is all about industrial culture and the industrial heritage of our region. We go in search of customs and buildings directly linked to the iron ore and steel industry, we try to find guests who have worked actively in this industry or who put their heart and soul into preserving this heritage, which is so characteristic of our region, in their daily lives.

Once again this year, you are cordially invited to accompany us on our journey through the south of Luxembourg. You may discover new places or learn details about these places that you did not know before.

Through the selection of our guests, we also hope to introduce you to some unique personalities from the south of Luxembourg and the border region, all of whom are committed in their own way to the industrial heritage, but also to living together and preserving our exceptional landscapes.

Our Minett-location of the month: Minett Park Fond-de-Gras

For the January episode of the “Minett Mash-Up”, we take you to a small valley not far from the Luxembourg-France-Belgium triangle, on the border between the municipalities of Differdange and Pétange. We go to Fond-de-Gras.

For almost a hundred years, this valley in the south-west of Luxembourg was one of the centres of minette mining, with a number of different companies holding concessions and extracting iron ore from the mountain. The last mine in Fond-de-Gras was closed in 1955, but between 1974 and 1978 minette was mined again in an open-cast mine at the entrance of the valley.

Today, Fond-de-Gras and the village of Lasauvage together form the “Minett Park”, an open-air museum where the memory of our miners is kept alive. Two railway associations, Train1900 and Minièresbunn Doihl, have established themselves in the valley, restoring historic railway equipment and making it accessible to the public.

The Minett Park also includes the Titelberg, one of the most important Celtic settlements in pre-Roman times, and the Giele Botter nature reserve, a former open-cast mining area that is now one of the core zones of the Minett UNESCO Biosphere.

Our guest: Robyn Wehles

Robyn Wehles, who completed her first internship at Fond-de-Gras in 2014 as part of her studies, joined the Minett Park team in 2016. For over a year now, she has been the director of this exceptional site.

With Robyn, we look at the past, present and future of Minett Park. She found the time to do it as the Minett Park is on its traditional winter break. The park is open to the public from 1 May to the end of September only. We find out why Robyn found her way to the Minett area and get the first details and programme for the 2024 season. We also talk to Robyn about how she manages to balance her work and personal life.

Our interview was recorded at the Victor Binck grocery store, which was moved from the centre of Differdange to Fond-de-Gras in the late 1980s. This old corner shop is one of the places in the Minett Park that Robyn is particularly fond of and has some interesting stories behind it, which we will of course reveal in this episode of our podcast.

© Industriekultur-CNCI / Minett UNESCO Biosphere

Our quiz:

The Titelberg was one of the most important settlements of the Celtic tribe of the Treveri before they were conquered by the Romans and Trier became the most important city in the region. What was the name of this tribe?

  1. It referred to the three royal families who jointly led the tribe.
  2. It was the name of the main deity worshipped by this tribe.
  3. The name means that it was the tribe that walked or travelled across a river.

 

Scholars believe that the Celtic trē-uer-o- can be broken down into “trē-” for “through” and “ver-o” for “river” or “water” (Sanskrit: vär = water). As the Moselle flows through the territory of this Celtic tribe and they lived on both sides of the river, this may explain the name.

In which year did the landslide on the Fond-de-Gras – Pétange railway line finally stop all railway traffic?

  1. 1952
  2. 1964
  3. 1949


Steampunk is a popular genre and style of pop culture that originated in the literary genre of science fiction authors such as Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, and has many followers today. The themes found in steampunk worlds are set in the Victorian era from 1840 to 1900, when industrialisation began, and there are many variations. The question is: which of these variations do not exist?

  1. Teslapunk
  2. Cowpunk
  3. Stonepunk

 

Links to the topics discussed in this episode:

  • Mutations 8 – Detailed book about the Fond-de-Gras published by the Fondation Bassin Minier
  • Minett Park Fond-de-Gras – Official website of the open-air museum
  • Épicerie Victor Binck – Historical grocer’s shop moved from the centre of Differdange to the Fond-de-Gras
  • Lasauvage – Picturesque mining village in a small valley on the French-Luxembourg border
  • Giele Botter – Former open-cast mining area, now a nature reserve and one of the six core zones of the UNESCO Biosphere Minett
  • Titelberg – Hill on which an important Celtic oppidum was built in the 1st century B.C.
  • AMTF Train 1900 – Association that restores historic trains and runs them between Petingen and Fond-de-Gras
  • Brasserie „Bei der Giedel“ – Restaurant and pub in Fond-de-Gras, established in 1881
  • Polenta – A typical Italian dish that found its way to Luxembourg through immigration from Italy.
  • Hall Paul Wurth – Powerplant of the Paul Wurth company, which was dismantled in Luxembourg City and moved to Fond-de-Gras.
  • Train de Laminoir – Rolling mill used by the Esch-Belval steelworks until 1989
  • Minièresbunn „Doihl“ – Railway association that runs trains from Fond-de-Gras to Lasauvage through an old mine tunnel.
  • Treveri – Celtic tribe that lived in the Luxembourg region
  • Name of Fond-de-Gras – The name is composed of a French part “fond” and a Luxembourgish part “Gras”.
  • Blues Express – Big Blues festival in Fond-de-Gras and Lasauvage. The 20th edition of the Blues Express will take place on 13 July 2024.
  • Minett Park Fond-de-Gras blog – Lots of useful information about everything you can discover in Minett Park
  • Anno1900 Steam Punk Convention – Big festival in Fond-de-Gras that takes place every year on the last weekend of September.

 

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