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John Cockerill Monument in Ixelles

John Cockerill Monument in Ixelles

John Cockerill Monument in the European District

On the Luxemburgplein in Ixelles, you will come across the John Cockerill Monument. In 1872, a year after his statue was unveiled in Seraing, Willem Rau, Cockerill's loyal right-hand man, took the initiative to donate a statue to Brussels.

Rau wanted to erect a monument in honor of John Cockerill in front of his house on Avenue Louise. However, Brussels expelled him because Cockerill was not a Brussels resident. Ixelles was interested. Rau presented the municipality with a replica of the statue that sculptor Armand Cattier had made to place in Seraing. That is how Cockerill's statue ended up on the Luxemburgplein in Ixelles.

The figures at the base of Cockerill's statue a blacksmith, a mechanic, a puddler and a miner represent the thousands of workers who laid the foundations of the European coal and steel industries, the industrial run-up of the European cooperation that took shape from the mid-twentieth century in the ECSC, the European Coal and Steel Community, and became the European Union.

Statue destroyed during farmers' protest

Today, the measures taken by the European Union are leading to heavy farmers' protests. During the gathering of thousands of farmers in the heart of the European district, at Luxembourg Square, the monument in honor of John Cockerill was toppled. The statue of mechanic Beaufort was heavily destroyed and burned during the farmers' protests on February 1, 2024.

Cockerill's statue remained undamaged for over a century and a half, a minor miracle. Three years after the erection of Cockerill's monument, politician Eugène Bochart sent a letter to the Ixelles municipal council asking for the statue to be taken down. Given Cockerill's Orangist past, Bochart thought the tribute was misplaced and an act of anti-patriotism. However, the statue remained standing. Cockerill was also unaffected by two world wars and hundreds, perhaps thousands of demonstrations that took place here.

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