Category Archives: Left Bank

Structures located on the left bank of the river Scheldt. They feature defensive capabilities to withstand a siege by a field army.

Fort Liefkenshoek

Fort Liefkenshoek
Fort Liefkenshoek

Description – The fort of Liefkenshoek (1579) was erected by the city of Antwerp to defend the Scheldt river access during the Dutch-Spanish war. It was captured by Spanish forces during the beginning of the siege of Antwerp in 1584. Later Dutch forces to the north were able to close the river for both commercial trade and military vessels. Subsequent Spanish (1584-1786) and Austrian rule (1786-1794) aimed to open the river once again but to no avail. During French reign the fort was refitted since Antwerp became the new maritime arsenal (arsenal maritime) in order to allow an invasion of England. The Scheldt river was opened because the revolutionary and later imperial armies controlled The Netherlands as well. The Belgian uprising of 1830 against Dutch rule did not lead to a capture of the fort. Together with the Antwerp citadel, Fortress Lillo and Fort Vlaams Hoofd it remained under Dutch control effectively closing the river once again. In 1839 the treaty of separation handed over Lillo and Liefkenshoek to Belgian rule but The Netherlands retained control over the river Scheldt to this present day. The fort lost its military role at the end of the 19th century; it continued to serve as a hospital (1849-1952). Its name was most likely derived from a now gone small stream or river near the fort.

Construction & Armament – This fort most likely started off as a redoubt constructed in 1577; its counterpart Lillo is located on the right bank of the river Scheldt. Built on a strategic location it was able to secure the river access and possibly served as a landing station for troops garrisoned at nearby defensive works. It features a four-pointed star shape with bastions. Its transition to a fort was carried out between 1577 and 1583. Two ravelins were constructed, one located facing north and an other one facing a southern direction. Since the area around the fort could be inundated it was difficult to capture. One gate allowed access to the fort: it is located facing the river. A powder magazine was placed in the southwestern bastion of the fort in 1808 together with barracks. Later a second larger magazine was erected in 1810. French engineers also built a “cat” (French: cavalier) on the central square of the fort (terreplein) in 1811. Although the fort had a permanent garrison and some civilians living within its walls its predominant military character allow it to be classified as a fort rather than a fortress.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – The fort of Liefkenshoek lost its military role in 1894. It did not see action during the siege of Antwerp thereafter. German forces occupied the site from 1914 onwards and added several small bunkers (pillboxes). The Belgian army installed two guns on the northeast bastion of the fort during the interbellum. The gate of the fort was rebuilt in 1844 but severely damaged by a German flying bomb impact during the last phases of the Second World War. In 1954 a part of the rampart of the fort was dumped in the moat in order to allow expansion within. In 1980 the municipality of Beveren became owner of the fort and restoration started thereafter. More in-depth information about the military and political significance of this fort and the river Scheldt can be found in specialized literature (in Dutch). The fort can be visited and is in good condition: it became a heritage site in 1985. A tourist information office is present on site; a permanent exposition highlights the history of the fort.

Sources – Own elaboration; Cools, H & Van Meirvenne, R; Van Hooydonk, E.;

Fort Jean Bart

Description – The fort of Jean Bart was located northwest of Antwerp on western side of the Borgerweertpolder and the main dyke of the river Scheldt. It was named for the French national hero and corsair from Dunkirk Jean Bart (Jan Baert). The fort never came close to completion. More to the south the fort of Stengel was also under construction.

Construction & Armament – Construction of the fort commenced in 1811. The fort was planned to have a five point star shape but when the project was halted only the outer ramparts were finished. The Scheldt dyke was connected to the outer defensive rampart of this fort.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – When Dutch rule was installed the fort of Jean Bart was far from completed and in 1814 works were halted together with Fort Stengel. It was argued that these positions, when taken and occupied by enemy forces, could serve as a base of operations to lay siege to Antwerp and block the river Scheldt access. Fort Ferdinand, located on the right bank closer to Antwerp (near Oosterweel), was deemed more suitable for the task at hand.

Sources – Own elaboration; Lombaerde, P.;

Fort Laar

Description – The fort of Laar (Laer) was built on the left bank of the river Scheldt. It was located next to the Borgerweertpolder and the village of Zwijndrecht. It secured the strategic Verbrandendijk road to the west.

Construction & Armament – Construction started in 1638 by Spanish forces aiming to secure the left bank.The fort features a square shape and features earth works. It was surrounded by a wet moat.

Armament – ?

  • ?x Cannon

Commander – ?

Current condition – The fort of Laer fell in disrepair during Austrian rule. On the Ferraris map of 1778 the fort is marked but seems to be in bad condition. In 1811 French forces constructed Fort Stengel a bit more to the east in order to secure the Borgerweertpolder and the Verbrandendijk road.

Sources – Own elaboration;

Fort Stengel

Description – The fort of Stengel was located west of Antwerp and controlled the entire Borgerweertpolder area. The road from Vlaams Hoofd to Zwijndrecht was secured by this fort but additional information is scarce. Based on its location it is to be considered a coastal defense fort. To the north one finds the construction site of Fort Jean Bart.

Construction & Armament – The fort was built in 1811 featuring earth works (palisades). Based on maps and drawings it featured a half star-like shape. The design is based on a horn work and a small square shaped reduit. It featured a wet moat and the surrounding area could be inundated when needed.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – Some sources indicate that the fort was ordered to be demolished on 9th December 1816 while under Dutch rule. It was argued that an enemy advancing on Antwerp could capture the fort and use it as a base of operations. Other sources indicate that the fort continued to exist until around 1865. It was leveled presumably because the forts of Zwijndrecht, Kruibeke and Saint Mary were constructed or refitted. No known remains of this fort still exist today.

Sources – Own elaboration; Lombaerde, P.;

Redoubt Saint Francis

Description – The redoubt of Saint Francis (Sint Fransiscus) was located on the left bank of the river Scheldt. It was named for the saint or patron. This redoubt fort was constructed in 1584 by the Spanish forces who laid siege to Antwerp.

Construction & Armament – The fort was built using timber and earth works. It was built on a location where the dyke of the Borgerweert polder was broken; this offered a strategic location during the siege.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – It is not known if remains of this redoubt still exist. A part of the industries of the port of Antwerp are located here. Today the protected nature and environment site of Blokkersdijk takes up most of the nearby terrain.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.; Van Meirvenne, R.

Redoubt Melkhuis

Description – The redoubt of Melkhuis was constructed by forces of the city of Antwerp together with Fort Vlaams Hoofd (II). It was located on the left bank of the river Scheldt.  Built in 1583 it guarded the southeastern access to Antwerp. Its location is not known but it seems that Fort Burcht (I) was a likely site. Later the Fort of Burcht (II) was built by Spanish forces to counter the redoubt in 1584.

Construction & Armament – The redoubt was built using timber and earth works.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – It is not know if any traces of this redoubt still exist.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.; Van Meirvenne, R.

Fort Vlaams Hoofd (II)

Description – The fort of Vlaams Hoofd (II) was located on the left bank of the river Scheldt. It was named for the county of Flanders to which it belonged. Other names are Fort Saint Anne for the chapel that was built near a small village. Later ferry services between Saint Anne (Sint Anne/Sint Anneke) lead to the third name: Fort ‘t Veer. This particular fort was constructed in 1583 by forces of the city of Antwerp.

Construction & Armament – The fort was built using timber and earth works, this location had been fortified since the Middle Ages. It is a so called hornwork with several bastions.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – Remains were destoryed when a third fort with the same name was built. Fort Vlaams Hoofd (III) was larger and occupied most of the site. To the southwest the redoubt of Melkhuis was established, to the north the redoubt of Toulouse and redoubt of Loop (Loopschans) were built.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.; Van Meirvenne, R.

Fort Burcht (I)

Description – The fort of Burcht (I) was located on the left bank of the river Scheldt. It was named for the village of Burcht. This particular fort was constructed in 1576 by the Dutch Republic. Fort Vlaams Hoofd (I) was located northeast of this fort.

Construction & Armament – The fort was built using timber and earth works. It closely resembled a triangular schape.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – The Fort Burcht was dismantled in 1577.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.; Van Meirvenne, R.

Fort Vlaams Hoofd (I)

Description – The fort of Vlaams Hoofd (I) was located on the left bank of the river Scheldt. It was named for the county of Flanders to which it belonged. Other names are Fort Saint Anne for the chapel that was built near a small village. Later ferry services between Saint Anne (Sint Anne/Sint Anneke) lead to the third name: Fort ‘t Veer. This particular fort was constructed in 1576 by mercenary armies.

Construction & Armament – The fort was built using timber and earth works, this location had been fortified since the Middle Ages. It closely resembles a triangular schape, sometimes additional earth works improved the fort.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – The Fort of Vlaams Hoofd (I) was decomissioned and demolished in 1577. Remains are destoryed when a second fort with the same name was built. Fort Vlaams Hoofd (II) was larger and occupied most of the site.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.; Van Meirvenne, R.

Fort Vlaams Hoofd (III)

Description – Fort Vlaams Hoofd was a brick fort built on the left bank of the river Scheldt protecting the city of Antwerp. Close to the fort the village of Saint Anne was located. A ferry service connected the city of Antwerp with the left bank hence the local population referred to it as “Fort ‘t Veer” (Tête de Flandre). A railway line between Antwerp and Ghent was built next to the southern flank of the fort. Next to guarding the Scheldt access to Antwerp it protected the Borgerweertpolder area and secured the strategic Verbrande Dijk road to the east towards Fort Stengel (until 1865). It was the third fort with this namesake as earlier fortifications had existed on this location.

Construction & Armament – The fort features a five point star shape and features earth works and brick. It was surrounded by a wet moat. Construction commenced in 1852. When it was finished it was rendered partly obsolete since new forts were heralded in 1859 in order to protect the city of Antwerp from bombardment. It featured several buildings including main infantry barracks, several artillery sheds, two powder magazines, two guard stations and a pavilion. Between the fort and the Scheldt river additional army logistics barracks were present (1840).

Armament – Fort Vlaams Hoofd

  • ?x 150mm fortress gun

Commander 1914 – ?

Current condition – The Fort Vlaams Hoofd did not take part in the siege of Antwerp in 1914 and was not damaged. The defending garrison fled east on October 9th when German troops tried to cross the river. The fort was demolished in 1930 and the moat was filled with dirt in 1932. A very small part of the fort is still visible close to the river. The Antwerp pedestrian tunnel crossing entrance is standing roughly in the middle of the former fort.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.; Van Meirvenne, R.; Lauwers, F.