In the heart of Radlin, Poland, a remarkable display awaits those who venture into the Marcel KWK ROW complex. The Mining Chamber of Memory, a recent addition, is a testament to the passion and dedication of one man, Bronisław Capłap. With a profound love for history, architecture, and photography, Mr. Capłap has transformed his extensive knowledge of Radlin’s mining heritage into meticulously crafted illuminated and moving models of the historic mine buildings and Shaft III.
With 38 years of experience working in the Marcel mine, Bronisław Capłap’s connection to the mining industry runs deep. He initially served in the preparatory department and later in the electrical department, followed by years in the radio center. His roles extended beyond the mine, as he also worked as a photographer and the editor of the company newspaper, “Przegląd kopalniany.”
Bronisław’s journey into recreating the history of Radlin’s mining infrastructure began with a photograph dating back over 60 years, which he stumbled upon in the SiTG KWK Marcel archive. The image depicted the historic Emma Mine’s facility, inspiring him to embark on a mission to bring this long-forgotten gem to life.
Initially, his vision was to recreate only the facility itself, but his determination and commitment soon expanded the project to encompass other buildings, including those still in use today. However, the journey wasn’t easy. The original building’s extravagant design from the German modernist era was too radical for the times of the People’s Republic of Poland, leading to its partial demolition and subsequent reconstruction. To recreate the unique towers of the facility, which changed from a square base to a polygonal design as they rose, was a formidable challenge.
For three years, Bronisław meticulously constructed his model, working evenings in his basement. His creation utilized an array of materials, mainly wood, with plywood, ice cream sticks, toothpicks, bamboo tubes, and coffee mixer sticks (a staggering 12,000 pieces) transformed into roofing tiles. The models were brought to life with miniature workers sculpted from plasticine, horse-drawn carts, trees, lanterns, and glowing lanterns. His dedication to detail is truly remarkable, with items such as stained glass rosettes crafted from colored glass.
Apart from the historic facility, the display also includes a bathhouse, laundry, and coal bins positioned behind the mine’s small cargo weighbridge. All components of the model are skillfully illuminated with LEDs, creating a captivating and immersive experience for visitors.
One of the highlights of Bronisław’s project is the moving model of Shaft III, Julia. This 1:100 scale model brings the mining process to life with rotating pulleys and working skip vessels. The level of precision and detail in this model is awe-inspiring. To recreate the complex mechanisms of the mine shaft and convey the energy and activity within required Bronisław to delve into the realms of electronics and engineering, and to achieve a flawless result, he had to consider every detail, down to the millimeter.
From the drive pulleys, with a distance of 15 meters in the original mine, to the ropes passing through the roofs and powering the wheels in the shaft tower, Bronisław’s model is an engineering marvel. The skip vessels travel nearly a meter below the model’s surface, thanks to twelve-volt electric motors, adding an element of authenticity to the model.
Bronisław’s dedication to detail extends beyond his models. The Mining Chamber of Memory houses a diverse collection of memorabilia, some from his personal collection. Among the treasures are a bas-relief of mining infrastructure, a bas-relief of miners he crafted on a breadboard, and a stone with the date of mining ownership, dating back to 1859. The chamber also boasts artifacts such as ceramic tiles, still vibrant after 140 years, and geological wonders like the 320-million-year-old Sigillaria root and a fossilized mussel, a mere 32 million years old.
Visiting the Mining Chamber of Memory in Radlin is an opportunity to journey through the rich history of the Emma Mine and Mining Shaft. Visitors will discover a wealth of knowledge, anecdotes, and captivating stories about the local mining industry, allowing them to immerse themselves in the heritage of this remarkable region.
The passion and dedication of Bronisław Capłap have not only preserved the legacy of the Emma Mine and Mining Shaft but have also brought this rich history to life in breathtaking detail. His work stands as a testament to the power of determination and the enduring spirit of honoring the past.