The inclined plane at Ronquières celebrates its 50th anniversary


For generations the world's largest boat lift dating back to 1968 on the Brussels-Charleroi canal was a regular spot for primary school trips. And rightly so! A visit to this amazing architectural masterpiece also offers great views of the region. When the weather is fine you can see sights such as the Lion at Waterloo and the Brussels Atomium. The 'A boat, a life' animated tour is one of a kind.

In 1832 Charleroi, Brussels and Antwerp were joined by a canal. This allowed coal and steel to be transported faster and more easily from the Borinage, the mining district in Hainaut, to the ports in the two latter cities. However, it remained a rather time-consuming process, passing through the 55 locks that were required to cover the height difference of over 100 metres. The large waterways required modernisation. An inclined plane was installed to replace the piece of meandering canal with 16 locks in the village of Ronquières.

Some extra remarkable statistics

The bridge, which serves as a holding bay before the crossing, is supported by 70 columns of a 2 m diameter. It measures 290 m by 59 m. The inclined plan consists of 2 caissons measuring 91 m by 12 m, filled with water, into which the boats sail. These troughs on wheels weigh between 5,000 and 5,700 tons and operate on an entirely autonomous basis. They transport the boats over a distance of 1,432 m and, in doing so, cover a drop of 68 m. The 150 m tower is a true symbol of Belgian know-how and proudly dominates the inclined plane.