Europe's largest boat lift, Strépy-Thieu, turns 20


Four hydraulic lifts were built on the Canal du Centre in Hainaut between 1885 and 1917. Between 1982 and 2002, a new hydraulic feat was added: the Strépy-Thieu boat lift. This work of art is now celebrating its 20th birthday.

At the end of the 19th century, Belgium wanted to open up the coal and steel basin of Mons, the capital of the province of Hainaut, and create the missing link between the Meuse basin in the east and the Scheldt basin in the west. All freight traffic used these four hydraulic lifts until 2002, but today they are reserved for pleasure craft.

Since 2002, the new generation of inland waterway vessels has been able to handle a height difference of 73.15 m in the 117 m high and 130 m long Strépy-Thieu funicular lift on the new Canal du Centre. This is a gigantic feat of Belgian civil engineering and the only one of its kind in Europe.

Strépy-Thieu can boast impressive statistics in its 20 years of existence: 100,000 passing ships, including 35,000 tourist ships, 42 million tons of goods, 450,000 visitors.

This makes Strépy-Thieu an important stimulus for the region's economy and tourism and a model of environmentally responsible entrepreneurship. This is a credit to the Walloon government and the various companies involved!