Local Heart, Global Soul

December 6, 2017

Long Straights And Gentle Curves…

Following my posts of the past two days here is the “Het Bels Lijntje” (The Belgian Line) in Baarle-Nassau / Baarle-Hertog, a former railway line. These days it’s been converted into a long cycle route by the same name. For this reason it will be full of long straights and wide gentle curves. No hairpin corners here. Let’s hope that cyclists don’t get too many head winds down those straights!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 5, 2017

The Days When The Railways Built Houses For Staff…

The information board for this building is very similar to the previous one, because they had similar functions. Translated into English it reads: “Railway House”. This house was built in 1867 when the railway line from Tilburg to Turnhout was constructed. On many locations next to the line, houses were built for staff of the Grand Central Belge Railway Company.

Colloquially the railway line was known as “Het Bels Lijntje” (The Belgian Line) because of the company that ran the line. In 1988 the last rails were removed to be replaced with asphalt for the cycle track “Het Bels Lijntje” which was opened in 1990.”

One thing is for certain, long gone are the day when employers built houses for their staff. Baarle-Nassau / Baarle-Hertog probably wasn’t exactly the “sticks” but in those days a “commute” to work meant walking distance or a short bicycle ride. I wonder what those staff would have thought if they had known that in one hundred and fifty years it would be normal for people to sit in cars or trains, often for hours… just to get to work! I’m not too certain that they would call that “Progress”.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 4, 2017

Customs Office: The Strangest Reason To Be Careful Where To Site Your Railway Tracks!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The next building we come across is called the Customs Office. The sign reads:

Next to Café ‘t Hoekske (of yesterdays post) was the Dutch Customs Office. Here, goods could be cleared through customs officially. Smugglers who were caught were searched here“.

Another plaque outside which tells us: “Customs Office, This house was built in 1867 when the railway line from Tilburg to Turnhout was constructed, now known as cycle track “Het Bels Lijntje” (The Belgian Line).

At the time the house served as a Customs Office and railway building for staff unloading trains and pointsmen who changed the points when trains approached the border.

Now it is residential accommodation. It was been a municipal listed building since 1996.”

One thought immediately crossed my mind: if they had to change the points every time they approached the border, then in Baarle-Nassua / Baarle-Hertog, with it’s complex series of enclaves and counter-enclaves you would have to be very careful indeed when planning where to put your railway tracks!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 3, 2017

Café ‘t Hoekske: When Your Notary Goes To The Pub To Work…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This next plaque made me laugh, but in fact it has an entirely practical dimension.

The information plaque on the wall tells us: “Café ‘t Hoekske (The Corner Pub):The border ran straight through Café ‘t Hoekske.

The border ran straight through the pool table. When real estate was sold which was situated in both countries, the notarial deeds were signed in this pub.

A table was placed on the border so that each civil-law notary would sign the deed in his own country.”

I think that both Himself and I had pretty much the same thought at the same time about this one, …

… that of course the pub owner would be very accommodating, after all, there are more homes and businesses in Baarle that the border runs directly though.

The difference with this one is that the owner is licenced to sell celebratory drinks to both parties after the deals have been sealed. It appears that a shop from the ‘zeemans’ chain has now replaced the pub… I now wonder if there is a table somewhere inside where these cross-border transactions still take place?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 2, 2017

Chickens In The Park And Maybe A Rude Statue…

Close to the large brick building in yesterday’s post we come across a small park. Two things catch my attention right away; first the fact that there are chickens pecking away on the grass, and secondly, the statue there. Either I have an unusually dirty mind or is it that there is a phallic resemblance to this? This is the second statue/ piece of ornament in Baarle-Nassau / Baarle-Hertog to draw this resemblance, What is it with this town and phallic looking items? Or has modern art taken a strange new twist?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 1, 2017

Brick Is Beautiful.

Baarle-Nassau / Baarle-Hertog, where I discover a building where brick is beautiful.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 30, 2017

One Tourist Information Office … Or Two?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Himself and I took a weekend away for two earlier this year and paid a visit to the half-Dutch, half Belgian town of Baarle.

This series of Belgium enclaves and Dutch counter-enclaves located in the south of the Netherlands is a centuries old hangover from the times when separate towns were owned by the nobility.

Borders have been semi-fluid until relatively recent times and whilst most of these enclaves got ironed out in the process, a complex legal arrangement meant that this never happened in Baarle.

Himself and I both love geography so to have this geographical anomaly on our doorstep was a visit too good to pass up. We therefore packed my wheelchair and began a whistle-stop tour of the center of the town.

Visitors to the Netherlands need to learn to recognise one very useful sign, the “VVV”, (a well known abbreviation for “Vereniging voor Vreemdelingenverkeer” which quite literally means “Association for the Traffic of Foreigners”, but is far better translated into English as the “Tourist Information Centre”).

In true Baarle form this building also straddles one of the enclave borders, with the demarcation line marked out on the floor. The staff were friendly and soon we had a local map showing us a few of the sights and different walking routes. With the wheelchair however we didn’t have time for everything so chose a shortened version.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 29, 2017

Knock, Knock, It’s The Tax Man…

House number plates in Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog have different forms so that it can be seen if the address is Belgium or Dutch. Some homes and businesses are divided in half by the border but municipality dealings and taxes are paid to the country where the front door is located. This has meant that on occasion owners have shifted the location of their front door in order claim the most advantageous taxes.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)


(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)


(photograph © Kiwidutch)


(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 28, 2017

Who Didn’t Play This As A Child?

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

Looking around the center of Baarle-Nassau / Baarle-Hertog, I discover another small quirky statue. Another one for my collection: I love the simplicity.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 27, 2017

Let’s Change, Let’s Not, Let’s Change, Let’s Not…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Baarle-Nassau / Baarle-Hertog enclave and counter enclave situation has been around since 1190. The next logical question would be: “Why not have both countries resolve this odd territorial entity some time in the next eight hundred years? I found some text the answered this question:

“What is remarkable is that the partition of the territory did not change across all succeeding historical events. Many opportunities presented themselves to eliminate the Baarle enclaves over the course of the last 800 years, but none succeeded.

* 1327 – 1339 – There was no Lord of Breda. The Land of Breda belonged directly to the ducal domains. The fiefs held from the Lord of Breda were now held from the Duke in Brussels. We can still see the mix up with “real” ducal fiefs like those of Baarle-Hertog in the registers in Brussels.

In 1334 a number of villages, including Baarle-Breda, were pawned to Van Liedekerke. During the short period 1327 – 1334 it would have been easy to erase the enclaves in all those villages, but it did not happen.

* 1388 – The Duchess of Brabant was in need of money to wage war. To raise these funds she sold or pawned a number of ducal domains. In 1388 her jurisdiction over the enclaves in the Land of Breda was pawned to the Lord of Breda. The pawn was never redeemed.

However, the jurisdiction over Baarle belonged since 1356 to her sister Maria of Brabant (Land of Turnhout) and was therefore not a part of this transaction. Thus while most enclaves disappeared already in 1388, those in Baarle escaped.

* From around 1500 the Kings of Spain were Lord over the 17 Provinces in the Low Countries previously ruled by Burgundy. The 80 Years War split these 17 Provinces into the Republic of the 7 United Provinces and the rest, known as the “Southern Netherlands”. The northern part of the old Duchy of Brabant was annexed by the Republic which acquired the status of occupied territories under the name “Staats Brabant”. In 1648 Spain and other countries officially recognized the Republic.

As far as Baarle is concerned, Henry III was followed as Count of Nassau and Lord of Breda by René of Chalons, Prince of Orange (in France) and then by William of Orange, the central figure in the Dutch revolt against Spain. From there the line runs down to Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in our own day.

* In the North the Republic of the 7 United Provinces survived up to 1795. Then from 1795 to 1806 these provinces form the so-called “Batavian Republic” with “Bataafs Brabant” (the former “Staats-Brabant”) as a normal province. From 1806 to 1810 they form the Kingdom of Holland; from 1810 they are part of the French Empire until they are liberated at the end of 1813 with William of Orange as sovereign.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

* In the South the rule of the Spanish King gives way to that of the Austrian emperor. Then in 1793 comes annexation by France, first as part of the Republic and then of the Empire, with liberation at the end of 1813, when the Congress of Vienna decides that the North and South shall be united under King William of Orange I as the United Kingdom of the Netherlands.

* 1830 – The two are split again: in the South we have the Kingdom of Belgium; in the North the Kingdom of the Netherlands. One half-province (the eastern part of greater Luxemburg) becomes a separate Grand Duchy initially under William I but from 1890 under its own Grand Dukes.

* 1648 – With the Peace of Munster of 1648, one of the treaties of Westphalia putting an end to the 30 Years War and also to the 80-Year-War of the Netherlands against Spain, it was decided that the portion of Baarle under the Count of Nassau should be added to the “Generaliteitslanden” (The United Provinces), because this part belonged to the Baronie de Breda; and that the portion of Baarle belonging to the Land of Turnhout should be added to the Spanish Southern Netherlands (the present Belgium).

In this way the enclaves survived the Peace of Munster.

* 1789 – In the Treaty of Fontainebleau of 1785, between the Dutch Republic and Emperor Joseph II, a committee was ordered to make proposals for the exchange of territories so that the enclaves would disappear. Protests from Baarle-Hertog delayed the work of the committee so much that nothing happened before the annexation of the Southern Netherlands by France.

* 1830 – Between 1810 – 1832 the whole of the Netherlands (North and South) was measured and mapped for the land taxes imposed by the French Empire and later the Kingdom of the United Netherlands. Each “village” became a cadastral municipality.

It was then thought wise to make one cadastral municipality “Baarle” and the maps and registers were made on that basis.

But Baarle-Hertog was part of the province of Antwerp and Baarle-Nassau was part of Noord-Brabant. So a formal provincial border correction was needed.

Everything was prepared and agreed upon informally. The provincial government of Noord-Brabant agreed to the proposals on July 5th and the Antwerp provincial government planned to do so in September 1830. In the summer of 1830, however, there occurred the Belgian Revolution. So the unified cadastral municipality had to be split up once again. This was done by colouring the Belgian parcels on the cadastral maps.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

But some parcels were forgotten in this process, and some could not be dealt with so easily since they were partly Belgian and partly Dutch: these had been thrown together into single parcels because the mapmakers had assumed that the partition of the village would shortly disappear.

* 1843 – The Treaty of Maastricht of 1843 delimited the boundary between the Netherlands and Belgium, but even then it was found impossible to compromise on the territory of Baarle. It was instead decided to leave things as they stood, for it was impossible to define the boundary between boundary poles 214 and 215 (about 50 km).

Instead of defining a boundary, it was accepted that the nationality of 5732 parcels be established one by one (the colouring on the cadastral maps). A part of these parcels constitute the (at least) twenty Belgian enclaves, presently Baarle Hertog, which are situated either within the territory of the Dutch municipality of Baarle-Nassau or, in the case of the agrarian region of Zondereigen, in the surrounding land.

Most of them lie about five km beyond the Belgian border, but there is also a small enclave of Baarle-Nassau inside Belgium and even a Belgian parcel within a Dutch parcel within a Belgian enclave surrounded by Dutch territory. This bizarre situation has obviously led to a number of difficulties – hence the repeated attempts at normalization.

* 1875 – A new committee, set up by Belgium, began its exploration of the possibilities for an exchange of territories in 1875. Only in 1892 was a draft agreement between the both countries ready, but it was not accepted by both parliaments.

* 1996 – In 1996 plans were made to form bigger municipalities in the Netherlands and in Belgium. So Baarle-Hertog would become a part of Turnhout and Baarle-Nassau would form together with Alphen and Chaam a new entity (the “ABC-municipality”).
This implied that the distance between the two centers of municipal government, now about 200 meters, would increase to 15 kilometers. This would make the long-existing strong contacts between both municipalities rather impossible. Both the Dutch and the Belgian parliaments voted against the disappearance of the municipalities of Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog. So they still exist although they are in population terms among the smallest municipalities of both countries.

(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)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Story of Baarle
http://ontology.buffalo.edu/smith//baarle.htm

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