WIT Press

Investigation Of The Restoration Of The Iron Suspension Bridge At The Castle Of Wissekerke


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WIT Press


M. de Bouw & I. Wouters


The two world wars have seriously limited the number of historical bridges in Belgium. Many strategic bridges have been blown up or bombed. Therefore, the history of bridge building can only be examined by (small) ornamental bridges, for example in castle parks and gardens. The oldest surviving wrought iron suspension bridge in Belgium and one of the oldest on the European Continent is spanned over the pond at the castle of Wissekerke in the district of Bazel-Kruibeke. The Brussels engineer Jean-Baptiste Vifquain designed it in 1824. In spite of the modest span of 23 meters, the bridge is of great industrial archaeological value, because of its historical and structural uniqueness. Since 1981, the bridge at Bazel has been a protected historic monument. Because of the lack of maintenance and the specific construction type, different parts of the ironwork are broken or bent, and strongly corroded. So, at present, this historical heritage is in very poor condition and some urgent maintenance and restoration work should be conducted. Fortunately, the council of Bazel intends to buy the park and the bridge. As from August 2004, they invited us to start with the restoration of this historical suspension bridge. Keywords: restoration, suspension bridge, cast iron, wrought iron, 19th century, Belgium. 1 Introduction Although (small) historic footbridges are more numerous, because most of the (large) historical traffic bearing bridges were bombed during the world wars, pedestrian bridges are often less known and therefore their construction and maintenance receive less attention. This paper discusses the approach of the


restoration, suspension bridge, cast iron, wrought iron, 19th century, Belgium.