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Ypres-Comines Canal

Ypres-Comines Canal

The failed Ypres-Comines Canal

Excavation works of the Ypres-Comines canal started in 1864. The canal would realize a connection between the Yser River and the Leie River. However, landslides at the ridge in Hollebeke soon threw a spanner in the works.

In Hollebeke, the canal was planned to go through a tunnel, but its construction turned out to be a failure twice. The attempt to dig out a trench also failed due to the unstable soil.


At the beginning of the 20th century, a fourth and final attempt was made to guide the canal through Hollebeke's unstable soil. This time, the canal level in Hollebeke was raised by five meters by two locks on both sides of this part of the canal.

The remains of one of those brick locks have been classified since 2000.

The fourth and last attempt also ended disastrously. At the Sint-Elooistraat, the engineers were building the iron Sint-Elooi bridge over the canal.

Hollebeke: excavation of the Comines-Ypres canal

However, the first cracks in the bridge pillars appeared just a few months after its construction. The pillars slowly moved away and on June 10, 1913, a third of the bridge collapsed.

A month later, the rest of the bridge also collapsed like a house of cards. The brick remains of the bridge now lie idly along the canal.

First World War

The artificial banks created by the excavated earth provided an excellent viewpoint during the First World War. "The Bluff" became the battleground of the warring camps.

Remains of bunkers and craters from bomb hits along the banks of the canal still remind us of the battle that took place in the First World War.

After the First World War, plans continued to circulate to complete the canal, but in 1967, the plans were finally buried. The uncompleted canal in Hollebeke was established as a provincial domain in 1970.

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