Mining communities

The community in Nieuwstraat when the road was rebuilt in 1968 (Kerkrade Municipal Archives)

Around the turn of the century, the AMSM (Aachen-Maastricht Railway Company) built several mining communities close to the mine for miners and officials. It was hoped that the construction of these homes would help reduce the high turnover among employees.

In total, the Domaniale Mine built a total of six mining communities:

Mining Community I  Holzstraat 108-122                 8 houses         1883
Mining Community II Holzstraat 84-102                   10 houses       1886
Mining Community III Holzstraat 40-54                     8 houses         1889
Mining Community IV Mijnweg 4-10                         4 houses         1891
Mining Community V Nieuwstraat 118-133             24 house         1902
Mining Community VI Holzstraat 55                          2 houses         <1883

By the standards of the time, these were spacious houses, each with a large garden and barn so that the miners could grow their own vegetables and keep small livestock. Most of the houses have been demolished over the years, only Community III on Holzstraat, dating from 1889, remains largely intact.
Shortly after the First World War broke out, Germany closed all the roads leading to Nieuwstraat in Kerkrade.In late 1914, the Germans placed a barbed wire barrier on the border, which they hoped would prevent deserters and prisoners of war from fleeing and keep spies out.
The economic blockade in Germany led to a boom in smuggling along the border.
The Dutch also built a high wire barrier in 1915 next to the border, to deter smugglers. When it turned out that it wasn’t having the desired effect, the municipality of Kerkrade hermetically closed the windows and doors on the street side with chicken wire. The residents on the Dutch side of Nieuwstraat now had three barriers in front of their front doors, and could only leave their homes through the back.
In 1972, the mining community was demolished.

Guard 1916 (Gemeentearchief Kerkrade)

Schwab family around 1910 (Mr Krewinkel, grandson of the Schwab family)

Abriss 1972, Nieuwstraat Nr. 127, Haus der Familie van der Sleen (Van der Sleen family)

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Eyewitness report

Contemporary witnesses – Jan Lenssen

The Lenssen family lived at Neustrasse 130 from 1957 to the beginning of 1971. The photo shows, among others, part of the family with visitors in the garden of Neustrasse 130 with a view of the Domaniale. In 1957, the rent for a house in Neustraße was 41.85 f/month. If the employment relationship ended or the rent was not paid within 1 week after the end of the month, or if the tenant did not fulfil other obligations, the tenancy was terminated immediately.

Jan Lenssen (then still a child) tells about this house:

“We had a coal cooker (cooker) in the kitchen and a fireplace in the living room. There was also no heating in the house, hence the ice flowers on the single-glazed windows in winter.

My parents and sister looked out over Germany from their bedroom, my brother and I had a view of the Domaniale mine. My sister had to cross my parents’ bedroom to get to her room. We didn’t have a bathroom. On Saturdays you bathed in the tub.

The toilet was indoors in the sense that it was accessible from the utility room, but it was built in a corner of the yard, I think it was a later improvement.

We had two cellar windows leading into the cellar on either side of a wall. The coal came in through one window and the coal slurry through the other. I don’t remember neighbours keeping animals except dogs/cats and pigeons.

Vegetables or a vegetable garden were rare. The soil was not very good in my opinion and it was not only the Monday washing that suffered from the rubbish that fell from the sky when the wind was wrong. I remember some pear trees. Sounds kept coming from the mine, but not that it woke you up. The “koeltuut” (siren) went off every day at 12 o’clock.

We were the only ones in these mine houses who had a telephone, so many neighbours came to make calls at our house. When you entered the front door, you stood in a corridor that led past the rooms to the courtyard. Above our big loft was another room which was on our neighbours’ side, quite strange actually.”

Lenssen family and visitors. Nieuwstraat 130 (Colony V)

Rental agreement of the Lenssen family from 1957:

Construction drawing of the houses in Colony V: Nieuwstraat 118 -133: