January 31, 2012

0112 BELGIUM (West Flanders) - The successor to the oldest lighthouse in Europe

Nieuwpoort is a municipality located in Flanders, to the mouth of the river Yser into the North Sea, on the Channel coast between Dunkirk and Ostend. It obtained city rights in 1163, and in 1600 near to the locality  took place a battle between the Dutch and the Spanish, in the Revolt of the Netherlands (1566-1609). 

At present in Nieuwpoort are 4 lighthouses: Westhinder, West Mole, East Mole and Nieuwpoort. In the picture can be seen the last, located about 500 m east of the East Mole light, at the eastern side of the mouth of the river Yser. It's the only Belgian lighthouse which stands among nature and it can be reached only by walking or cycling. This is also the only possibility to reach the eastern pier, where the rarer visited one of the booth pier lights stands. 

This light is the modern successor to the Vierboet, a 30m fire tower built in 1284 in downtown Nieuwpoort, which seems to be the first lighthouse ever built in Europe. The Groote Vierboet, an octagonal stone tower built around 1414, survived until the 19th century and was fitted with a lantern in 1863. It was replaced about 25 years later by a new lighthouse built closer to the sea. Both towers were destroyed during WWI, during the Battle of the Yser (part of the First Battle of Ypres), when Karel Cogge, an overseer of the North Water of Furnes, opened the sluice gates on the mouth of the river Yser twice to flood the lower lying land, thus halting the German advance.

Temporary beacons were erected until a new lighthouse was built in 1926, which was destroyed in September 1944, during WWII. The lens was preserved in storage in Paris during the war and is in use in the present lighthouse, built in 1949. It’s a conical concrete tower 95m-high with red and white bands, and emits two red flashes every 14 seconds, range 16 nautical miles. Because it's in operation isn't allowed public access to the tower.

In terms of the stamp, I haven't anything to say, because it doesn't exist. There are only a postmark of PostNL which, I found on the Internet, can be purchased by anyone and applied to the correspondence, whether domestic or international. On May 25, 2011, TNT N.V., the international express and mail delivery services company with headquarters in Hoofddorp (Netherlands), was split in PostNL, which kept the post delivery services, and TNT Express, which deals with international express and cargo delivery services. If I don't understood correctly, I ask those who know better how it works to correct me.

sender: Jetske (postcrossing)
sent from Goes (Netherlands), on 22.01.2012

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