The village of Doel is said to date back to 1267. It was originally known as ‘De Doolen’ (‘border water’) and up until the eighteenth century it was essentially an island surrounded by flooded plains. For many years, due to its unusual geographical location, it was unclear which country Doel actually belonged to – whether it was the region controlled by Spain or the independent State of the Netherlands.
The design of the village that exists today has been dated back to the Eighty Years War (somewhere between 1568 and 1648) and it remains largely unchanged; it is completely surrounded by old seawalls and has been built according to a checkerboard pattern (the village consists of three streets parallel to the riverfront, four streets perpendicular to those, and all of it criss-crossed with alleys and small corridors). Doel also boasts many historical buildings. Some of these include Belgium’s oldest stone windmill (which is not abandoned), Reynard Farm, the Old Hoefyzer (a farmstead and inn site), and the Baroque Hooghuis that once belonged to the family of seventeenth-century artist, Pieter Paul Rubens.
However, despite its obvious historical significance, just before the turn of the millennium the Belgian government announced that Doel was destined to be demolished to make way for the enlargement of the Port of Antwerp. All the residents in the village were offered cash premiums to sell-up voluntarily, and they were encouraged to take up the offer by being told that any refusal would lead to expropriation and the offer of much less money. As a result, by 2007 there were fewer than three-hundred and fifty people left in the village – a reduction from approximately one thousand three-hundred.
In an effort to save the village, plans were launched to open the site as an open-air museum, with various famous artists painting murals to deliver the message: ‘Don’t take our village away.’ Nevertheless, other artists were soon attracted to the site and began to use the buildings as canvases for their own work. Now, only a few buildings remain free of graffiti; these are the homes of the last residents in Doel. They are the villagers who have shown resilience against the government and, despite facing attacks by squads of riot police, which has resulted in the streets being strewn with rubble and the start of some of the demolition work, they continue in their effort to save the village and their homes. Even with their efforts, though, these defiant individuals are acutely aware that the gradual deterioration and destruction of the village only strengthens the likelihood that the port will, in the very end, win. The only good news to emerge is that, in response to the imminent outcome, plans have emerged to dismantle and rebuild, brick by brick, some of the historic sites in a neighbouring town. This is to ensure they are preserved for the enjoyment and education of future generations.
Our Version of Events
On our mission to consume lots of good beer, we left Bruges and set off in the direction of Antwerp. However, just over an hour later we found that we were almost upon the great city. We’d neglected to take into consideration how small Belgium is so we had a bit of spare time to kill before it was time to get pissed all over again. To break up the drinking and sober up a bit, then, we decided to go take a quick look at the [mostly] abandoned village of Doel we’d read about some time ago.
Finding the place was easy. We simply drove in the direction of the great big nuclear power plant that towers over everything within its vicinity. What is more, with few residents still living in the village itself, there was no dodging and diving to get onsite. Instead, we simply drove straight into the heart of Doel.
It felt very strange to be driving along streets that seemed completely abandoned. There was nothing especially spectacular about the place given that most of the buildings are simply empty shells and homes, but there was still something rather cool about the whole experience. The best bit, of course, was being able to find a parking spot right in the middle of the explore. That never happens!
All in all, it didn’t take long to walk around the place. We had a bit of a mooch down every street, and peeked inside a fair few of the buildings. But, as we quickly discovered, there’s very little left inside any of the structures. The only interesting thing we found in one of the houses was a small kitten and around twenty dishes of rotten food. Unfortunately, the cat bolted as soon as we entered the building, so there wasn’t much we could do to try and save it. We didn’t have anything edible on us to lure it back either, only strong Belgian beer.
Explored with Ford Mayhem, MKD, Rizla Rider, The Hurricane and Husky.
By TheBaronof Scotland
Done a 5 day tour of the more well known UE haunts in BE, met some great explorers and a real good laugh
The sole reason for the trip was after seeing pics of this place on another forum I used to frequent.
In there at 5:30am and waited until 7:30am for decent light to catch the place before nerves got the better of us and we though the workmen where on their way in
Thought it was about time these photos saw the light of day, it was 2 years ago now, FFS where does the time go.
A Brief history of the Kingsway exchange.
Kingsway started out life as the Chancery Lane deep shelter. This was constructed as part of the war effort to provide shelter to Londoners from the blitz, although it was never actually used for this purpose. After the war use passed to the public record office who used it for storing many tons of documents.
After several years of use for that purpose, the decision was made to adapt the shelter to become a hardened trunk exchange for the then GPO run telephone system. In order to serve this purpose the complex was vastly extended, with 4 new large diameter tunnels built to one side of the existing parallel tubes that formed the shelter.
The complex really was quite vast by the time this work was done, and in its hayday through the 50s-70's housed many tones of exchange equipment, something like 300 miles of cable, several generaters, air conditioning plant, staff facilities, kitchens etc. etc. evidence of most of this can still be seen in there to this day. By the 1980's however the importance of the facility started to decline as the telephone networks changed and evolved and by the 1990's there was very minimal equipment left in the exchange.
For a while in the late 80's part of it was used as the Kingsway computer centre which provided secure backup facilities and a paging network to parts of London. Since that ceased operation, the only real use of Kingsway has been for storage. A smalll part of it was also used briefly as the headquarters of a goverment organisation, although details on this are sketchey.
There is a fantastically detailed history on subbrit for anyone who cares to read it.
My memories of this evening are a little hazy, but I know it started with myself and SirJohnnyP checking out a certain well known reservoir and bumping into a few others who, as it turns out, were also heading to the same place later in the night - bonus. We actually ended up with a fairly sizeable group, think there were about 8 or 9 of us in the end, which is totally bonkers for a site like this.
We spent several hours in here. This place is vast, it's one of the largest underground complexs in London and you really can feel the size of the place when you're down there. Probably one of the best places I've ever has the opportunity to explore.
Explored with Sirjohnnyp, Raptor Jesus, Elliot and others who I forget now.
So here's my selection of photos.
Quite a lot of the complex consists of empty tunnels like these
But there's still a lot of plant in place
This one was still running
Main power distribution
The MDF (Main Distribution Frame)
Air cooling and dehumidifying plant
Some cool signs
Other bits of equipment just dotted around the place
Before the internet existed this is how businesses connected their network together.
Thanks for Looking :-)
This was top of my list of shit to see for a while, just my luck i should funk myself and my camera lens getting in the bloody place! struggled like funk to take photos in here, if there's one place you don't need a pissed lens it's in somewhere with as much symmetry as this, managed to cobble together a few alright shots though but wish i had more, definitely need to do a revisit, that said it ain't just about looking at epic spaces like this through a viewfinder, i would have been happy with no camera just mooching about and standing in the middle of this place taking in all that awesome!!
The explore, so it was meant to be an early morning jobby but due to a rather late night rooftopping antwerp central train station and other awesome shiznit we didn't end up attempting to get into here until 7/8 which is a bit late really as this is in the middle of antwerp and there was a few people pottering about. the task of getting in proved to be fairly awkward, i got over first and headed straight for the access, once inside i went down to the basement to see if i could find another access point to let the others in, as i walked into a cellar room i could see the floor lit up in a corner of the room from a grate up to outside, i could also see the the floor lit up from the doorway i was stood in, very very foolishly i made the mistake of thinking this floor was all one level from where i was stood to where the grate was, i took a bou4/5 step into the black of the cellar heading towards the lit up floor in the corner of the room when suddenly the floor evaporated, walked straight of a 4/5 foot ledge and landed in a pile on the floor, very very pro!! was lucky not to have broken anything tbh, i did twist up my knee pretty good, smashed in the lcd on my camera and also knocked the shit out of my lens-wasn't my finest exploring moment, lesson most definitely learned-if you can't see where your putting your feet GET A FUCKIN TORCH OUT YOU TIT!!! so yeah i picked myself up and hobbled over to the original access, whilst i was throwing myself around in the cellar two of the group had managed to get over, unfortunately one remained on the wrong side of the fence as he couldn't make it over never as fun if one of the crew can't get in but given we were already in he went off for breakfast whilst we got down some picturegraphs. As awesome a place as this is it would have been a hullavh lot more ebjoyable with an unpissed lens and not having to hobble/hop around the bloody place! knee was pretty well buggered for the rest of the trip, in fact it still giving me twinges now well over a month after i did it, as i say lesson bloody learned, careful out their kids!
The Chambre De Commerce stock market of Antwerp opened in 1531. At the end of the fifteenth century nearby Bruges was an important international trading hub, and Antwerp took the role as a trading centre of Bruges.
The first building, in late-Gothic style followed a design by Domien de Waghemakere, and comprised a rectangular open space, enclosed by a covered colonnade. This design greatly inspired Sir Thomas Gresham when he founded the London Stock Exchange in 1565, and was echoed by later Stock Exchanges in Rotterdam (1595) and Amsterdam (1611). It is claimed that when it first opened â€œevery nationâ€ had a more or less permanent place in the CDC.
The Chambre Du Commerce in 1531.
After a fire in 1583 it was rebuilt to the original plans, and the open interior space was enclosed in 1853 with a roof designed by Charles Marcellis and modelled on Londonâ€™s Crystal Palace.
The CDC, with roof added.
After a second fire again destroyed the building in 1858, Antwerp City Council held a design competition, in which the old concept had to be preserved. The current building was designed by architect Joseph Schadde and was completed in 1872. It is described as being a curious combination of neo-Gothic style and revolutionary techniques, especially the metal construction for the interior.
The Antwerp Stock Market closed in 1997, when its functions were taken over by the Brussels Stock Exchange. The building has remained empty and neglected ever since. Long-standing plans to convert the CDC and a neighbouring building into a â€œsemi-public function spaceâ€, restaurant, and 5-star Marriott hotel have stalled due to funding problems.
PICTURE TIME!! - tbf nowhere near as many as i wanted, this was what was salvaged
and this is me giving the V's to CDC for buggerin up my shizzle!
thanks for taking a look kids, play safe y'all!!