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Ateliers de Construction de Willebroeck

Ateliers de Construction de Willebroeck

Bridge builder from Willebroek

The steel lifting bridge above the Brussels-Scheldt sea canal is part of the legacy of the Société Anonyme des Ateliers de Construction de Willebroeck, once an internationally renowned constructor.

The Ateliers de Construction de Willebroeck was founded in 1872 by a certain Léopold Valentin. He established his studios close to the Willebroek train station.

International expansion

A first achievement was the construction of the Luiz I arch bridge in the Portuguese city of Porto, which was inaugurated in 1886. The construction of this bridge was entrusted to the Ateliers de Construction de Willebroeck. It was designed by the company's technical director, Théophile Seyrig.

Seyrig, originally a German engineer, first worked for Gustave Eiffel's company, but in 1879, he moved to the construction company from Willebroek (photo Wikimedia, Public domain).

Construction of the Peace Bridge

The Ateliers de Construction de Willebroeck built the Peace Bridge for his home city between 1947 and 1952. The steel structure replaced a swing bridge that was irreparably damaged in May 1940 during the outbreak of the Second World War.

When inland and seagoing vessels pass by, the bridge deck is lifted up to 35 meters and road traffic has to wait, hence the nickname Bridge of Sighs after the many sighs during the wait.

New name, new location

In 1960, the company changed its name, and from then on, the workshops were known as Compagnie Graver. The workshops moved to a new location in Willebroek, right on the border with Tisselt. High-pressure vessels and parts for wind turbines were built there until 2015, now under the name G&G. In 2015, the company went bankrupt and the buildings were razed to the ground.

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