Tag Archives: Borgerweertpolder

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.;

Lunet Hoboken

Description – The lunet of Hoboken was built on a dyke of the river Scheldt. Located southwest of the city of Antwerp it guarded river traffic but was originally built to secure the Borgerweertpolder.

Construction & Armament – This lunet featured a wet moat and four ramparts. These ramparts add up to a roughly triangular design. It had only one entrance to the northeast. The lunet is not considered a fort since it is not known whether there was a garrison stationed on a permanent basis. It can be considered an older redoubt.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – The lunet of Hoboken shows up on several maps dating back to the siege of Antwerp in 1584. It might be possibly still considered a defensive work in 1851 as it secured the Hoboken polder area. It lost its military role when the Brialmont forts of 1859 were erected; Fort Hoboken and Kruibeke secured the southern river Scheldt access to Antwerp. Most of the site is presumed to be destroyed since part of the port of Antwerp expanded in this area since the 1890’s. Today one finds an industrial site (Antwerp Blue Gate).

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R., Cannaerts, J.

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 Toulouse

Description – The redoubt of Toulouse 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 northwestern access to Antwerp. Its location is not known. To the west the redoubt of Loop (Loopschans) was constructed.

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 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.

Lunet Halve Maan

Lunet Halve Maan
Lunet Halve Maan

Description – Lunet Halve Maan is located on the defensive dyke that connects the fort of Zwijndrecht to the south with fort Fort Saint Mary to the north. It was built defend the dyke and guard access to the Borgerweertpolder to the west and to the village of Melsele to the east. Its name was given by the local population since its shape resembles more or less a half moon.

Construction & Armament – Construction the lunet and the dyke commenced in 1871 together with the military road encircling Antwerp. East of the dyke the area could be flooded when a siege would take place. West the Borgerweertpolder area allowed a defending army to take refuge. It did not see any action in 1914 since the Siege of Antwerp was centered on the right bank of the Scheldt river. The lunet is surrounded by a wet moat which runs up north to Fort Saint Mary.

Armament – Lunet “Halve Maan”

  • ?x 90mm

Commander 1914 – ?

Current condition – The defensive dyke did not see any action during the Great War. When it lost its military role it was kept as a safety barrier in case of floods. In 1953 a flood damaged part of the dyke. In order to close breached dykes near Kallo much of the earth works of Halve Maan were removed. Although the original buildings have been demolished the bridge access is still present. The shape of the lunet is still clearly visible in the landscape. Part of Halve Maan is private property and the moat is used for recreational fishing sports.

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

Defensive Dyke

Description – The defensive dyke connects the fort of Zwijndrecht to the south with fort Fort Saint Mary to the north. It was built to allow the left bank of the river Scheldt to be secured by an inundated area. It is considered to be part of the military road connecting the forts and redoubts of the veiligheidstelling. It features two strong points: the lunet of Halve Maan and the redan of “Put van Fien” and measures approximately 2600m in total length.

Construction & Armament – Construction of the dyke commenced in 1871 together with the military road encircling Antwerp. East of the dyke the area could be flooded when a siege would take place. West the Borgerweertpolder area allowed a defending army to take refuge. It did not see any action in 1914 since the Siege of Antwerp was centered on the right bank of the Scheldt river.

Armament – Based on “Halve Maan” and “Put van Fien”

  • ?x 90mm

Commander 1914 – ?

Current condition – The defensive dyke did not see any action during the Great War. Since no forts north of Fort Haasdonk were built it was argued that the defense of the left bank would be centered on the defensive dyke and nearby forts. When it lost its military role it was kept as a safety barrier in case of floods. In 1953 a flood damaged part of the dyke. In order to close breached dykes near Kallo much of the earth works of Halve Maan were removed. Today it still marks the administrative border between the provinces of Antwerp and Eastern-Flanders.

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