Tiensepoort Leuven - Then & Now

Discussion in '1940' started by Rich Payne, Nov 11, 2014.

  1. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    There are a number of British Pathé films and still images showing elements of 15th/19th Hussars who had been forward of the Dyle Line returning across the Tiensepoort railway bridge at Leuven prior to its demolition.


    A surprising number of buildings from the 1940 images still survive despite both bomb damage and the consequences of the bridge going up.

    In the initial picture, the bridge line is shown by the 'Cointet' defences. The 'Martini' hoarding is on the far side of the bridge. A Vickers Mk VIB is followed by a Norton 16H and a Norton sidecar wheel drive combination and finally a Morris-Commercial 8cwt.

    The officer on the right has a line reel and has been wiring the charges under the bridge.


    The balconies in the immediate left foreground have convex curved supports. The property is currently for sale. The balcony remains pock-marked by the 1940 bomb fragments.


    The sapper with the job of detonating the charges was positioned closer to Leuven, just outside the ring road. There is a car visible on its side which has been damaged by earlier bombing.



    Although the building that the engineer is positioned by has been demolished for the widening of the ring, the other building on the corner still exists, together with the remains of the cast iron gas lamp bracket. The damaged car was positioned by the fourth building on the left.

    edit...the building on the left is in fact one of the pair of 19th century toll houses which seem to have been lost during the 1960s.



    The officer supervising the demolition, positioned alongside the damaged car was obviously ready for the explosion but the motorcyclist clearly wasn't !


    I drew the line at laying my 16H on its side and the junction was too busy this afternoon to use the correct angles. I shall return with tin hat and attempt to replicate the pose, but at a quieter moment.

    Final image is from a German source and shows the demolished bridge and tramlines damaged by the earlier bombing.


    The buildings on the right remain more or less as in 1940.

  2. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    That's brilliant Rich, how long did it take to put it together?
  3. Bernard85

    Bernard85 WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    good day rich payne.yesterday,09:23pm.re:troops in louvain,belgium-may 1940.great post,brilliant photo's of before and after,thank you for posting,regards bernard85
  4. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Bernard, I'm glad that you enjoyed them...Mike, I don't know how long it took. I enjoyed doing it....I know the Pathé stills very well and I knew exactly which stretch of road I needed. I printed off a handful of photos and then took my life in my hands standing in the middle of the cycle path. Having re-examined the Pathé films, I realise that I could do it much better in terms of angles etc. Next time will have to be crack of dawn in the summer so that I can stand in the road with a long lens.
  5. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    Very nice "then & now" pictures Rich! Well done!

  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Good Job Rich :)
  7. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    So interesting - and made me look up Tiensepoort Leuven, geography never my strong point. Seems to be a Belgian town not far from the border with Germany, didn't realise that.
  8. Eaw458

    Eaw458 Junior Member

    Only in so far that it took the Germans six days to get there... ;)

    This is what the road bridge looked like from the railway line. This picture was taken from the West side and clearly shows the barbed wire fence erected by the Belgians.


    And this shot was taken from pretty much the same angle, but then from the top of the railway enbankment:


    Both are from my personal collection of photographs of Leuven in 1940.

    Kind regards,

    dbf, Owen, Drew5233 and 1 other person like this.
  9. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Thanks, Walter. I hadn't realised that the demolition only took out one span of the bridge.
  10. Eaw458

    Eaw458 Junior Member

    Indeed - just the first span on the enemy side / East side was demolished. Comparing to the collateral damage I have seen on photographs of bridge demolitions by Belgian troops in May 1940, this seems a relatively modest and controlled explosion.

    Not that it ever stopped the Germans. In between the Tiensepoort (site of the above pictures) and Diestsepoort (site of the incident at 2RUR's roadblock discussed in another post) was the actual station which was a flat piece of land and the Germans just laid a dirt road over the tracks and into Leuven town centre as soon as the BEF had withdrawn.

    The bridge itself was repaired by early July, as shown in another picture which I will have to dig out and post.


  11. Eaw458

    Eaw458 Junior Member

    Same bridge, several weeks after the event in July 1940:

    Buteman, Drew5233, Owen and 1 other person like this.
  12. Eaw458

    Eaw458 Junior Member

  13. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin


    A very interesting thread with excellent posts.

    I recently spoke to my Normandy Veteran who was with the 43rd Wessex and the bike he used was also a Norton 16H, which he said was a bone Shaker!

  14. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  15. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

  16. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Tom, I have the luxury of being able to ride as much or as little as I like, and on generally better surfaces than many of those available in 1940 but the Norton is no worse than its girder-forked, rigid rear contemporaries and with much better forks than some.

    By the way, I can see the map image also...no problem here.
  17. JCB

    JCB Senior Member

    Great thread , anyone fancy doing the same on the bridge at Menin Gate :)
  18. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Craig, find me a photo of a BEF motorcycle at an identifiable location anywhere in Northern France or Flanders and I'll do a 'Then & Now' of it ! :)

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