Local Heart, Global Soul

June 4, 2013

Winching Out the Historical Heavyweights…

Filed under: BELGIUM,Mechelen,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I have a few photographs from Mechelen that I didn’t really feel fitted in with any of my posts so far… but I also didn’t want to leave them out.

The first was a photograph on the same information board as the information for the Duivelshuis, Het Paradijs and Sint Joseph’s houses, which depicted a crane. Not a crane in any recognisable form as we might know it today, this “contraption” is clearly both huge and heavy, so I was stunned to read that it was traditionally operated by children. I know that  child labour has a very long and often shameful history throughout centuries past, but surely this one takes the cake?

I only have to think of my own children’s skinny little limbs to shudder at the thought of them being expected to work on docks unloading ships. The text that accompanies the photograph reads:

“Crane Bridge. As the name suggests this was the site of a crane. It was built of wood in the fifteenth century. Operated by the “crane children”, it was used to unload ships. It was demolished in 1887. Before that, in the Middle Ages there had been a footbridge here, followed by a stone bridge. The present-day metal swing bridge dates from 1986.”

Then there are the shoe scrapers… they were used to scrape the mud off your shoes before entering the house and I’ve often seen them in Europe as metal attachments to walls, often in lovely wrought iron forms, but this is the very first time I’ve ever seen one embedded into the wall itself.

Lastly there are the banners, …at first I had no clue who the medieval lady might be, or indeed that it might be a representation of any real person at all, but after my research  it all becomes clear, this is of course the heroine of Mechelen: Margaret of Austria.  I was delighted to read that when the main cities of Belgium were asked to pick someone famous from their history to be their “emblem”  and “representitive” that Mechelen alone chose a woman, and a most eminently noteworthy one at that. Bravo!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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