Flemish maritime heritage saved in School for Ship Modelling


For centuries, shipbuilding determined the ins and outs of East Flanders' BaaS rode, a village on a bend in the Scheldt. After the closure of the two shipyards there in the 1980s, an inland waterway museum and, at the beginning of this century, a School for Ship Modelling were created at this location.

Anyone who wants to learn how to build historically and scientifically accurate ship models as part of a team can do so. There is a long list of parties who are interested in safeguarding Flemish maritime heritage. Although, just one of the model builders has a nautical past. The others practice a wide variety of professions, from prison warden, through doctor, to baker.

Building a ship model to 1/10 or 1/20 scale is no easy task. Sons used to learn their father's craft simply by watching carefully. Plans were not part of the process and, at best, only sporadic notes were made. Now, we have to rely on the numerous maritime paintings and engravings and also the contracts, deeds or specifications that the builders set down at the time. Plans were later drawn up on this basis.

Baasrode imposes extreme precision rules on itself. In terms of drilling, planing and turning techniques as well as the materials used, the overall picture must be correct. Oak for the hull, Siberian larch for the mast, copper for the fittings, hemp for the rigging, percale for the sails ... They also restore vessels, such as the Blankenberge barge eaten by mice or the mail boat covered in caked-on nicotine from a Brussels café.