Wardrobe chain – lowering and raising
The sound of a wardrobe chain lowering and raising in pithead baths in a coalmine. A peculiarity of this mine are the unusual wardrobe arrangements; at the start of their day, miners hang their ordinary clothes on chains suspended from the ceiling of the so-called ‘black’ (dirty) wardrobe, and these are lifted high up to the ceiling for safe storage. After returning from the pit, the miner hangs his now dirty and wet overalls on the chains within the ‘black’ wardrobe and lifts these under the ceiling to dry. He then goes through the baths and washes and then enters what is known as the ‘white’ (clean) wardrobe, where his ordinary clothes are returned to him on the same chain number as his dirty working outfit.
The sound was recorded in the Trbovlje-Hrastnik coal mine which has a long tradition. The first mine in the Trbovlje area, founded by the entrepreneur Franz Maurer from Wiener Neustadt, Austria, started to operate in 1804. It was later followed by several smaller mines. The arrival of the Austrian Southern Railway to the Zasavje region in 1849 was a double gain: it facilitated the transport of coal to clients whilst simultaneously the railway itself was a major customer itself, having a great need for coal. In 1873 all the coal mines in Zasavje were merged under Trboveljska Premogokopna Družba (Trbovlje Coal Mining Company) which remained the proprietor until WWII. After 1946 all coal mines were nationalised by the new socialist authorities. Zasavje coal mines reached their peak of production and technological development in the second half of the 20th century. After 1991 coal was no longer considered the energy source of the future, and so the state decided to gradually close the mine. The extraction of coal ceased in 2010 and the company focused exclusively on closing it down which should be completed by 2018.
Sound recordist: Boštjan Troha
Photographer: Irena Marušič
Video recordist: Irena Marušič