Towns and Ports on Walcheren and Zuid-Beveland between 1500 and 2000: a historical Sketch

Van den Burg, L.P.J. (2015). Stad en haven op Walcheren en Zuid-Beveland tussen 1500 en 2000: een historische schets” [Towns and Ports on Walcheren and Zuid-Beveland between 1500 and 2000: a historical Sketch]. In OverHolland, 16/17, p.140-165.

An historical overview of how different towns in Zeeland dealt with the challenges of remaining accessible over water.

In Towns and ports on Walcheren and Zuid Beveland between 1500 and 2000, Leo van den Burg zooms in on the fate of the towns in the southwestern delta. Continuing on from Reinout Rutte’s Four hundred years of urban development in the Scheldt Estuary in  OverHolland 12/13, he shows that the towns and businesses were in the past continually making efforts to retain or strengthen their own positions in the network of relationships. The possibility of planning railways opened up a new horizon in the nineteenth century for strategic spatial thinking on a previously unheard-of scale. The plan for a railway line from Middelburg to Germany by the Zeelander Dirk Dronkers is evidence of this. The opening of the railway line from Vlissingen to Bergen op Zoom in 1872 did not work out as he had anticipated, as is often the case with large-scale visions. For Leo van den Burg, Dronkers’ plan however also demonstrates that the vast scale that spatial strategies are implemented on means that they only have a chance of succeeding if the appeals by local actors are looked upon favourably by a national authority. This raises the question for a port and its town of whether the common destiny that they have always shared in the past has been essentially changed by the primacy of the nation state in terms of spatial planning. (introduction by Esther Gramsbergen)