Upgrading mainland Europe’s oldest iron suspension footbridge

Ine Wouters, Michael de Bouw, Sigrid Adriaenssens, Ann Verdonck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The castle park Wissekerke in Belgium holds mainland Europe's oldest remaining iron suspension bridge (1824). In 1989, after years of neglect, the Kruibeke city council bought the castle, park and finally, in 2006, the bridge. The Architectural Engineering Lab of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (æ-lab) is consulted to put the rehabilitation on the right lines and to check whether this bridge can stand the function shift from private to public.
This paper places the pedestrian bridge within the framework of 19th century bridge construction, determines its historical value, characterizes the used materials by metallographies combined with tensile and hardness tests, re-analyses the structure, proposes strengthening strategies and concludes with a renovation proposal that preserves all of the authentic elements, has least visual impact, is durable and guarantees continued public use.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-41
Number of pages6
JournalSteel Construction. Design and Research
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009


  • pedestrian bridge
  • footbridge
  • wrought iron
  • suspension bridge
  • Belgium
  • Wissekerke
  • rehabilitation
  • material characterization
  • paint analysis
  • cast iron
  • 1824
  • Vifquain
  • assessment
  • structural analysis


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