Zwembad Domein Hofstade

Built: 1937

Abandoned: 1990

Visited: 2006 + 2014

Hofstade, Antwerpen, Belgium

The history of Bloso Domein Hofstade all starts in the early 1900s. Because of the growing use of the railway, the national railway company wanted to add a new line for freight trains. For safety of motorways and the Leuven canal the railway is placed on an elevated bank. The ground to built the banks is taken from the lands south of Hofstade. In 1902 the first ground is dug away. The digging stopped in 1912 when the First World War started. During these years the digged holes filled with water creating two lakes. After the war the digging continued and the lakes grew.


In the 1920’s the domain spontaneously became a touristic place. More and more people went there in the hot summers to search for cool water and recreation. In 1925 the city of Mechelen claimed the lakes; they needed them to provide the city of water. The lakes were fenced off and armed guards protected the place. The local people and the press started a campaign to get the domain back.


It took until 1933 before Domein Hofstade got public again and was opened by King Albert. A private company run the place and opened a small beach and some catering buildings around it. The following years the place got busier every day. About 35.000 people enjoyed the beach on a sunny day. Around the domain, hotels, cafes and amusement parks arise, named Vieux Marché. A master plan for the park was completed in 1937 by architect Victor Bourgeois. The Vieux Marché of the cafes and dance halls were demolished. The new infrastructure had to be more sports orientated. The added infrastructure included a large outdoor swimming pool. The accompanying buildings were designed by architect Charles Van Nueten.


The open air swimming pool was built on the old beach. The pool was 100 by 50 meter and was 1.60 m deep. This open air pool was the biggest in Europe for several years. During the Second World War the domain got in German hands, they used the field as a military site. In 1944 the Americans take over the domain and it was used as an army truck repair site for several years. In 1978, the large outdoor pool was taken out of use, the buildings were abandoned in 1990.

Photos of Domein Hofstade

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