Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Where do you go to my lovely canal?

Let's have a look where the Pommeroeul-Antoing canal begins. This is one of my favourite moorings of all times. You find it in the south of Belgium, close to the French border. A place like that is called a Grand Large, a big width.

The evening light, just after a good shower of rain, does not make things look worse.

Built in the early 1980s, this canal can handle barges of considerable size. Consequently the lock, that is needed to help us down the slope, is quite large as well: 150 x 12,5 metres /500 x 40 feet.

From the Grand Large, the canal goes downhill rapidly.
The drop is quite considerable: about 15 m / 50 ft!

Not shown here, the lock has recently been modernised. A cctv camera peers into the distance to help the lock keeper discern upstream traffic.
This is one of two locks on this stretch. A Google search teaches us that each lock employs three civil servants.

From the next lock we look into France, that begins at the end of the concrete quay.
And what do we see on closer inspection?

A nature reserve. No barges coming in from France, nothing to see through the cctv system but birds, some of them rare. No busy lock assistants making sure that traffic comes through smoothly. Smashed windows in the lock keeper's office, a huge investment gone to waste. Just a silted up river, giving out into the French part of the river Scheldt, that bears the name Escaut in this region.

So that's where you go to my lovely canal - nowhere . . .

P.S. I simply love Belgium.


elizabeth solaka said...

You, Sir, are an extraordinary photographer.

VallyP said...

Lovely, Koosje! If I hadn't been there myself, I'd still be impressed, and it was impressive!

I still find it hard to believe that all that money was spent to build those huge locks to make a short cut canal over the border into France and the French just dropped the project. It would have saved skippers about 50 kms and hours of travelling to do the round trip they have to do now!

Erik-Jan said...

Hi Koos,
Unbelievable, but beautiful, it is!!

Koos F said...

Dear Elizabeth, Thanks for a most wonderful comment. I watch your photos in awe and amazement. Did you know that you and Erik-Jan are colleagues?

Thanks VallyP and Erik-Jan.
I spent a few hours finding out backgrounds.
This canal was in use from 1982 to 1993.
By that time is was so badly silted up on the French stretch as to have become useless.
The official plans were to complete dredging in 2006 and re-opening for traffic. Inhabitants of the region are concerned about the poisonous quality of the mud.
It still beats me how they think they can use the French part without building an extra lock. The water level is just much too low.

Anne-Marie said...

I just adore coming to your blog and getting this glimpse into the wonderful water world you are a part of. Your photography and narrative are both of the highest quality, and I am always learning something new from these visits.

The waste is shocking, but I'll bet the nature reserve is beautiful to be in.


Koos F said...

Aw Anne-Marie, so honoured - and the miracle of it all you are, what is it, over 10000 miles away from here, while we interact in real time (well almost).
It's a miracle.

Lannio said...


Wow, and I have a friend barging right now in France. I too love Belgium. This is my first visit to your blog and am impressed by the photography. Dank u zeer.


Koos F said...

Thanks Lannio, great to have a new guest of a good lineage, who writes impeccable Dutch too!

Lannio said...

Hi Koos,

Thanks for your posting. Not only is my sister cool, she's also an incredible person and wonderful mother. While the two of us live very different lives in the same country thousands of kilometres apart, we have a great connection. She's spoken very highly of both Gypsy and Val her cyber-sisters.


gypsy noir said...

where do you go to my lovely canal..when your alone in your lock ..tell me the thoughts that surround you i want to get inside your barge..yes i pics koos..and that drop in to the lock is scary..

Koos F said...

Just listened to Carrot Juice Is Murder by the Arrogant Worms. Cures me of vegetarian tendencies.
Give Peas a Chance. Brilliant!

OK I admit it: who is the guy with the microphone?

Metalchick said...

Hi Koos,
I was over at Val's blog yesterday when she was talking about the lifts. before that, I didn't know about those things. I only knew about the4 Panama Canal. Now I learned something new again, I didn't know there were locks at other canals.