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March 28th 2021

In the city centre, the St. Jansbeek stream has been brought above ground again!

When the St. Jansbeek stream goes underground, the high railway dam stands out: this barrier is, as it were, a new city wall that separates the city centre from the northern suburbs and the country side. The construction of the railway dam is a necessary consequence of the choice made in the 1840s to build the railway from Amsterdam to Elten (which was still on Dutch territory at that time, but is now in Germany) in the hilly landscape north of Arnhem and not along the river: from a point of view of national security, that would be too dangerous. The opening of the “Rhijnspoorweg” (Rhine railway) reduced the journey time from the west of the Netherlands to Arnhem significantly: before that, a trip to Amsterdam would take seventeen hours and to The Hague twenty-four hours. The railway line was opened on May 14th 1845. In the course of the 176 years, a lot has changed in and around Arnhem in terms of the railways, but this railway dam has been still practically unchanged!

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Arnhem: view on the bridge over the St. Jansbeek stream near the Sonsbeeksingel street where the stream disappears underneath the railway dam

To get to the spot where the stream reappears from the culvert under the railway dam via the shortest route, one have to walk to the Zijpendaalseweg road. There are some beautiful houses near the Zijpsepoort gate, which have been built as an office or shop building as well as a private house. A remarkable building is situated on the corner of theZijpendaalseweg road and the Cronjéstraat roaad: the shop/house, called “De Hooge Vlucht“. It was the first major commission for the architect Willem Diehl (1876–1959) who have been born in The Hague. In addition to the contrasting colour scheme of the building (white, gold, dark green and slate), the large tile tablet that is placed above the entrance door depicting the name of the house stands out: a beautiful mountain landscape in refined pastel shades with a hovering eagle.

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Arnhem: on the Zijpendaalseweg road nr. 2 is a beautiful shop/house, “De Hooge Vlucht” (the high flight) from 1905 which has been designed by the architect W. Diehl (1876-1959) in Art Nouveau style
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Arnhem: above the entrance of the shop/house on the Zijpendaalseweg road Nr. 2 is a impressive tile panel with a flying eagle, to illustrate the name of the building: “De Hooge Vlucht” (The high flight)

From the moment Willem Diehl established himself as an architect in Arnhem, he has left a strong mark on the area in Arnhem between Park Sonsbeek (Transvaalbuurt quarter) and the Janssingels streets/Willemsplein Square. In the period 1902 to 1930 he did not only design many large mansions (such as “De Hooge Vlucht), but also the Luxor-Live music theatre and the “Vesta-Building“, as an office for an insurance company. The buildings all show strong influences of the Jugendstil or Art Nouveau.

The road to the city centre continues under the railway line via the now modernly designed Zijpsepoort gate to the Willemsplein Square and the corner of the Jansbuitensingel street. Around the Willemsplein Square are buildings dating from different periods and in different architectural styles: on the south side a continuous row with neoclassical mansions from 1854 by the architect from Arnhem and – as we would nowadays call it – “project developer” Hendrik Willem Fromberg (1812–1882), on the east side a building from after the Second World War with a. o. a restaurant (the previous building however was designed by Willem Diehl and has been destroyed during a bombing on September 17th 1944 together with the neighbouring Willemskazerne barracks), on the north side the office building designed by Willem Diehl as well for the then insurance company “Vesta“. This large, striking office building was built in the years 1930–1931 and opened on May 18th 1932. It’s also his last work. This listed building is a “Gesamtkunstwerk” in a mixed architectural style with influences of traditionalism, the Jugendstil and the Amsterdam School. Many artists have contributed. One of them is the sculptor Gijs Jacobs van den Hof from Arnhem (1889–1965) of whom more statues can be found in the city. Here he designed the rectangular sandstone relief above the top light. It is a representation of the Vestal Virgins: six priestesses of Vesta, the goddess of the hearth. The composition is symmetrical with a rectangular altar with in front a fire and behind it a round temple with a dome. On either side of this, three women walking away from the altar are depicted in long robes. The two outer figures hold an oil lamp in their hand. Due to the contrasting colour, these details can be clearly seen even from afar.

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Arnhem: impressive office building (“the “Vesta-Building”) from 1932 designed by the architect Willem Diehl (1876-1959) on the west side of the Jansbuitensingel street
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Arnhem: above the entrance of the office building “Vesta-Building” is a relief by the sculptor Gijs Jacobs van den Hof from Arnhem, with six Vestal Virgins, priestesses of Vesta, the Goddess of the hearth

What immediately stands out in the middle of the Willemsplein Square is “Le grand cerf“, the large bronze deer of the French sculptor François Pompon (1885–1933): he was best known for the depictions of animals, the shapes of which he simplified and polished the surfaces. The statue was placed in 1954 and is a cast of the original from 1929. The statue had already been brought to Arnhem on the occasion of the Second Sonsbeek Triennale in 1952, where the emphasis had been on the works of French masters such as Auguste Rodin, for whom François Pompon had also worked. The blue-purple sea of the flowering crocuses had now given way to the fine rosy blossom of the prunuses.

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Arnhem: the sculpture “Le grand cerf” (Deer) by the French sculptor François Pompon (1885-1933) from 1954 on the Willemsplein Square

On the west side of the Willemsplein Square is an office building designed by Willem Marinus Dudok (1884–1974) for the then insurer “De Nederlanden van 1845” (The Netherlands of 1845). Although only a couple of years separate the completion of the “Vesta-Building” and that of the “Dudok-Building” the architectural styles are clearly different: Dudok initially applied the rationalistic style of H.P. Berlage, but he felt limited by it and started experimenting with i.e. expressionism. The influence of the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright is also visible through the use of reinforced concrete. Especially the round staircase with the large windows stands out: it looks as if a tube with lots of light and views has been glued against the building!

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Arnhem: the “Dudok-Building” from 1938-1939 on the Willemsplein Square originally designed by the architect W.M. Dudok for an insurance company

A little further towards the Central Rilway station stands another building designed by Willem Diehl: “Luxor-Live“, as it is now called. This building dates from 1915 and was originally a cinema (the first in Arnhem and one of the first in the Netherlands). Later there was a disco. Since 2007 it has been used as an additional music centre/pop stage after a major renovation (reinforcement of the floor). Here too, the Jugendstil is the characteristic architectural style. On the website of Luxor it is indicated that Willem Diehl has attracted numerous artists for a.o. the sculptures, paintings in the building and special carpets. Everything in and around the building is richly decorated: the dancing nymphs at the entrance are a fine example thereof – these were made by the sculptor Simon Miedema (1860–1934). When the famous cinema operator Abraham Tuschinski decided in 1921 to build a film palace in Amsterdam, he took the Arnhem Luxor as an example. From a technical point of view, the building was way ahead of its time: dimmable light bulbs in the hall and an air change system, where the air was refreshed four times an hour (at that time only the Amsterdam Stock Exchange had such an air ventilation and heating system!). The building is a listed building – except for some parts of the first building layer, because they date from after 1945. The ornaments of the façade and interior have come from the pottery manufacturer W.C. Brouwer (including lamp holders, terracotta reliefs and coffered ceiling).

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Arnhem: the façade of the music theatre “Luxor Live” (in 1915 opened as a cinema “Luxor Théâtre”) by the architect Willem Diehl on the Nieuwe Plein Square near the Willemsplein Square

All these buildings on and near the Willemsplein Square could only be built there, because it had been allowed from 1850 on to demolish the city walls! Nowadays It is no longer visible where exactly the St. Jansbeek stream reappears from underneath the railway dam: the map shows that this is between the modern office building next to the “Vesta-Building” and the neighbouring building, but it remains underground. A clarifying document describes (in Dutch) how the St. Jansbeek stream would (until the end of the 13th century) have been flowing – freely to the Rhine, but that wasn’t possible anymore when Arnhem became a fortified city in the 14th century. The St. Jansbeek stream flows into the Looierijgracht city canal, the northern part of the Stadsgracht city canal, and flowed into the city between the St. Janspoort gate (near the current Jansstraat street on the south side of the Willemsplein Square) and the Velperpoort gate in the north-east. It is assumed that there was a lock at that point, which turned out to be a weak point in the defense of the city: therefore Karel van Gelre ordered a “sturdy bastion” to be built there (which was named after him: “The Gelderse Toren“). The illustration below shows the numbers: 1. is the Prümermolen mill; 2. is the St. Jansmolen mill; 3. is the Looierijgracht city canal; 4. is the Gelderse Toren bastion; 5. is the vaulted stream; 6. is the St. Jansbeek stream; and 7. is the Binnenmolen city mill.

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Arnhem: map of the course of the St. Jansbeek stream in the 17th century with indications of the city canal (Looierijgracht) and of the Gelderse Toren tower
St. Jansbeek stream in 1650 (in Dutch)

The Prümermolen mill was situated at the spot where nowadays the bridge at the Bothaplein Square is on the north side of the railway dam and the St. Jansmolen mill had been standing where the railway had been built. The original city canal, the Looierijgracht was on the spot where nowadays the Singelplantsoen park is: between the Jansbuitensingel street (on the railway side) and the Jansbinnensingel street (on the city side). The bend in the city canal had been followed when the building activities on the Willemspleintook place! The architectural firm Buro Poelman Reesink Landscape Architects which made the design for bringing the St. Jansbeek above ground, states in an explanation that the stream originally flowed into the city at the Bovenbeekstraat street. “Here were several breweries that used the water as a raw material. Through brick watercourses, the water flowed right past the houses through the city. The stream took a wide bend around the Eusebius Church, which stands on a natural elevation. Because people also used the stream as a sewer, the water became more and more dirty downstream. That is why the stream to the south had increasingly been led through vaults. Finally, the stream flowed via the slums of De Weerdjes to the harbour on the west side of the city centre, where it flows into the Rhine. By 1861, the St. Jansbeek in the city centre had completely disappeared underground. The city walls were demolished and the water flowed outside the city centre, via the Lauwersgracht city canal, towards the Rhine.” In the city, the Binnenmolen mill whose name had already been mentioned in 1291, stood on the Bovenbeekstraat street and Het Land van de Markt Square. Because the St. Jansbeekstream had a drop of 2½ metres there, the mill could work with an overshot wheel. In 1850 the mill was converted into a school and later on into a police station. It was demolished in 1970. During the overall reconstruction of that part of the city, the original foundations of the Binnenmolen mill had been excavated.

More about the course of the St. Jansbeek will follow below. After the closing of the Looierijgracht in 1850 and later of the Jansgracht after the end of the “National and Colonial Industrial Exhibition” held in 1879, the Dutch landscape architect Leonard Springer (1855–1940) had laid out the parks, fountains and ponds. It also included the eight larger-than-life sandstone garden sculptures made in 1712 by the sculptor Ignatius van Logteren (1685–1732) for a country estate in Breukelen. Four of the statues were donated to the city in 1859 by F.G.S. Baron van Brakell tot den Brakell, who lived on Velperbinnensingel street no. 2 opposite the concert hall “Musis Sacrum“. He demanded ‘though that the statues should be placed in such a way that he could see them from his house. He later donated the other four statues. Of these remain – on their original pedestals – Proserpina and Neptunus in the Singelplantsoen park, a Maenad on the Velperplein Square, Juno opposite the concert hall “Musis Sacrum” and Pluto and Venus in the Lauwersgrachtpark park. The statues of Jupiter (which stood in the Singelplantsoen park) and a Faun (which stood near “Musis Sacrum” in the 19th century) did not survive the Battle of Arnhem in 1944. There is an old photo from the summer of 1935 of the Singelplantsoen park with the statue of Jupiter: on it are also the then not so large Crimean limes (Tilia ×europea) planted along the streets. Due to the many modifications, the park itself has not been designated as a listed monument, but the statues, the garden vase and the fountains are: according tot the listing documents they “give a good and very characteristic picture of a late 19th-century formal park. The objects are essential and now rare and relatively intact remains of the monumental 19th century city expansion of Arnhem. The objects in the reduced and modified park still form a strong historical element on the site of the former city canals.

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Arnhem: view on the Singelplantsoen park towards the north-east on a photo from Summer 1935 with on the right in front the statue of Jupiter

At two points in the Singelplantsoen park there are cast iron fountains in a rectangular basin with a widening in the middle near Jansbuitensingel street no. 6 and no. 21 respectively. They are identical and are both listed. At both fountains in a bright ochre colour, four fright-inspiring dragons – griffins with a dragon’s head whose fangs are open – are placed at the base, carrying the water basin; they have a dark brass colour. Above the water basin rises a column with again three dragons entangled with their necks and one of which is “spitting out” the main water jet. They have been granted the status of a listed monument because they are of cultural historical importance because of the connection with the construction of the park between the Janssingels streets in the last quarter of the 19th century after the end of the “National and Colonial Industrial Exhibition” held in 1879. They are of art-historical value because of “the completeness and the high-quality aesthetic qualities of the design in eclectic style” and also of value as to where they are situated: an essential part of a park that is connected to the 19th century urban expansion of Arnhem and its structure. The fountains and ponds are still fed by the water of the St. Jansbeek stream!

In addition to beautiful statues and fountains, there are also some monumental trees in the Singelplantsoen, on the side of the concert hall “Musis Sacrum”: one of them is an Oriental plane tree (Platanus orientalis), a Japanese pagoda tree (a “weeping form”, Styphnolobium japonicum, “Pendulum) and an eastern American Black walnut (Juglans nigra)! They are beautiful, enormous in size and already very old, but they are certainly not record holders in age or height in the Province of Gelderland…

As already indicated, the St. Jansbeek stream originally flowed from the Looierijgracht city canal through the Bovenbeekstraat street (with the Binnenmolen mill) and the Beekstraat street through the city along the south side of the Eusibius Church (which stands on a natural elevation) to the west to flow into the Roermondgracht city canal at the Rijnhaven harbour in the Lower Rhine – where now the Roermondsplein Square is with the driveways to the Nelson Mandela Bridge. From the Gelderse Toren bastion the stream had been vaulted – not much different from the current situation, where the water also remains underground! The water flowed under what is now called the Gele Rijdersplein Square, into the Beekstraat street. From 1837 this square formed the back of the Willemskazerne barracks, named after King William I. Officially, the “Gele Rijders” form the Royal Horse Artillery, part of the Royal Netherlands Army, but their name is related to their uniform trimmed with gold braid, which was donated by King William II at his inauguration as king in 1842. Since 1963, a bronze statue of a Gele Rijder has been standing on the square, made by Gijs Jacobs van den Hof.

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Arnhem: the statue “De Gele Rijder” (literally the Yellow Horseman, but actually cavalier of the Royal Horse Artillery) on the Gele Rijdersplein Square from 1956 by Gijs Jacobs van den Hof (1889-1965)

Now let us return to the Singelplantsoen park and its continuation to the Velperplein Square and in the park around the Lauwersgracht city canal, the only remaining part of the old city canal. In addition to the three old trees, there are two more statues of Ignatius van Logteren: the Maenad (in these days someonehad provided her with a COVID-19 face mask, which has since slightly subsided!) that overlooks the concert hall “Musis Sacrum” and Juno in a flower bed in front of the main entrance of Musis Sacrum. Both statues have recently been restored and unveiled: the Maenad in November 2012 and Juno in October 2013.

The initiator of the concert hall “Musis Sacrum“, Devoted to the Muses, has been the architect H.W. Fromberg, who also had developed the capital villas built on the Willemsplein Square. The first building dates from 1847 and was then situated on an island in the city canal – the concertgoers had to go over a bridge to the concert! The reason for the construction of the so-called “Building for Arts and Sciences” was a Dutch-German singing competition that was held in Arnhem that year. After a few years, the original concert hall didn’t comply anymore – in 1889 the new building was opened with the appearance we still know today: in neo-Renaissance style with onion-shaped domes. After this, many more additions have been made, even a very radical reconstruction in: the last time in 2015–2017. Then all kinds of extensions were removed and on the side of the Lauwersgracht city canal a gigantic concert hall has been added with a capacity of 1,000 visitors (and even 2,000 if the chairs are removed!) to replace the original Parkzaal hall with many technical gadgets, such as a floor adjustable in parts. Part of the exterior wall of the new Park Hall is made of glass and can be pulled up so that people in the park can also enjoy the music. The design has received many awards. The building is also very special to see: the exterior walls are covered with elongated, glazed “roof panels” in all kinds of shades of green-blue. Below, high windows reach to the ground. Although it is state-of-the-art, it fits nicely with the building that was built 130 years earlier.

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Arnhem: view on the original part of the concert hall “Musis Sacrum” from 1891 under a dramatic cloudy sky (April 2018)
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Arnhem: view on the newly added part to the concert hall “Musis Sacrum”, the Park Hall, from 2018 with the St. Marinus Church in the background and the Lauwersgracht city canal in the front

The Lauwersgrachtcity canal is the only remnant of the fortifications around the old city centre of Arnhem. The water and the park around it now form an attractive area between the singels streets that are here called Eusebiusbuitensingel and Eusebiusbinnensingel. In the park two of the statues of gods by Ignatius van Logteren are standing: Pluto, armed with a mace and in his left hand the chains of the three-headed hellhound Cerberus, depicted here with only two heads, not far from Musis Sacrum, and Venus with the small Amor sitting on a swan, more to the south, near the roundabout with the Airborneplein Square.

Arnhem: the Lauwersgracht city canal with the statue of Pluto and the Eusebiusbuitensingel street in the background on a picture from 1919

In the Lauwersgracht city canal is the so-called “Burgerklok” (Citizens’ Bell) which has been offered to the municipal administration in September 1956 as a token of appreciation for what the board had done for the city after the Liberation. Every year on September 17th the bell will be ringing during the commemoration of the Battle of Arnhem. Originally the bell has not been standing in the water, but more to the west and on dry land: on the Velperplein Square. When this square was redesigned in the 1960s, the bell with the bell chair was placed on an artificial island. Actually it is now in a historically correct place: in September 1944, the immediate vicinity of the Lauwersgracht city canal was the scene of a battle in which the first group of British soldiers were captured in the city centre of Arnhem. C Company of the British paratroopers reached Arnhem via the railway line, completely without incident. As they continued through the abandoned station to the Velperplein Square, an exchange of gunfire took place with German soldiers hiding in the city centre of Arnhem.

At the Eusebiusbuitensingel street one can still see the beautiful mansions which have been built mid-19th century and which have survived the devastations during the Battle of Arnhem.

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Arnhem: view on the Lauwersgracht city canal with the “Civilians’ Bell” from 1956 and the mansions on the Eusebiusbuitensingel street in the background

The stream still flows from the west into the Lauwersgracht city canal, but until 2017 it flowed out of there on the south side – ingloriously underground in a sewer pipe to the river… South of the Lauwersgracht city canal, the Nijmeegseweg road ran since 1935 as an access to the then opened Rhine Bridge: since the beginning of the 20th century there had been a call for a fixed connectionbetween both banks instead of the ship bridge to the west of the old city that had existed since the beginning of the 17th century. In the 1930s, the choice for the construction of the bridge more to the east was made because of the space around the Lauwersgracht city canal. The southern part of the canal has been filled to constuct the road. After the Second World War, the Nijmeegseweg road has been built as a roundabout around a deepened middle part, the Airborneplein. In the middle of the square with a roundabout for cyclists and pedestrians, the Airborne memorial, where every year the official commemoration of the Battle of Arnhem that began on September 17th 1944, takes place. The memorial consists of a fragment of a damaged pillar of the former Palace of Justice in the city, placed on a pedestal, as a symbol of the law being violated by the war. During the Battle of Arnhem, the courthouse has been completely destroyed. In golden letters the date 17 September 1944 has been engraved on the pillar. The memorial has been designed by Gijs Jacobs van den Hof and was unveiled during the first commemoration on September 17th 1945. A red brick wall has been erected around the square, where there is space for other works of art, such as the relief from 1953 by Gijs Jacobs van den Hof with the emblem of the British 1st Airborne Division which in September 1944 was commissioned to conquer the Rhine Bridge occupied by the Germans. It depicts the Greek mythological hero Bellerophon, riding the winged horse Pegasus. The relief has been placed here just later: at first it has been part of the pedestal of the Arnhem memorial “Human against Power” at the Eusebius Church.

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Arnhem: on the wall of the Airborneplein Square a relief is hanging by the sculptor Gijs Jacobs van den Hof with the Airborne-Emblem (the Greek hero Bellerophon on the winged horse Pegasus) from 1953

In the city one can find many works of art by Gijs Jacobs van den Hof from various periods. In addition to the pillar and the plaque at the Airborneplein Square, there are the aforementioned relief with the Vestal Virgins on the Vesta-Building on the Jansbuitensingel street/Willemsplein Square and one of his later works the statue from 1963, “De Gele Rijder“, on the Gele Rijdersplein Square. There is also a beautiful bronze statue at the Karpervijver (Carp Pond) on the east side of the Park Sonsbeek, called Offervaardigheid (Devotion) from 1930, in which a naked lady is kneeling and staring into the water with half-closed eyes – her palms on her thighs have been turned outwards. On either side there are in miniature two little people who are eating and drinking something. Another work hangs on the Stadstheater Theater: a limestone relief, entitled “Fantasy” (1937), in which a woman in a modern-looking dress is standing on a cloud holding a shell to her ear and listening with a dreamy look. Both statues are showing something serene – beautiful.

A work of art has also been installed on the northern brick wall of the Airborneplein Square: “Battle of Arnhem 44 – 94 Bridge to the Future” by the Dutch sculptor Marius van Beek (1921–2003) on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Arnhem. The name “Bridge to the future” refers to the Stichting War Requiem – Bridge to the Future, a foundation from 2001 which aims to stimulate awareness of war, peace and freedom at the time of the Airborne Herdenkingen commemorations with substantial meetings and artistic manifestations. It also indicates that one wants to give a different interpretation to “commemoration” – to provide not only to what lies behind us, but also a look to the future. Regularily the War Requiem by the English composer Benjamin Britten (1913)–1976) is performed: in this impressive non-liturgical Requiem he composed in 1962 for the inauguration of Coventry Cathedral, Britten incorporated nine war poems by the English poet Wilfred Owen, who died in 1918 just before the Armistice of the First World War.

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Arnhem: on the north wall of the Airborneplein Square a piece of art is hanging, “Bridge to the Future”, by Marius van Beek (1994) to the occasion of the 50th commemoration of the Battle of Arnhem 1944–1994

On September 16th 1978, the Rhine Bridge was renamed John Frostbrug, named after John Dutton Frost (1912-1993), who as Lieutenant colonel of the Second Battalion of the 1st British Airborne Brigade reached the bridge during the Battle of Arnhem, but failed to capture it entirely from the Germans. The original bridge was blown up by the Dutch in 1940 to prevent the German troops to advance. During the war, the bridge was rebuilt and when it had just been put back into use, the Battle of Arnhem took place, after which the Americans bombed the bridge in the autumn of 1944 and the Germans blew up the remains in the spring of 1945. After the war there was first a so-called Bailey bridge over the river, but in 1950 the bridge, as it looks now, was restored. The railings of the bridge are painted “maroon red“, the colour of the beret and the standard of the British First Airborne Division.

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View on the John Frost Bridge over the Lower Rhine towards the south with in the small pill box a memorial plaque about the Battle of Arnhem

On the east side of the bridge is a new building of the Rijngemaal pumping station, which ensures that the city does not flood at high water in the river Rhine. During the fighting of September 1944, the entire area around the bridge has been destroyed and also the then existing steam pumping station. In 1945, an auxiliary pump with an American-made diesel engine was installed in the “emergency pumping station”: a pump of the Worthington Pump and Machinery Corporation. In 2011 the decision was made to demolish the old Rijngemaal pumping station and to build a new pumping station: by then after 66 years this special diesel pump, which had been inextricably linked to the reconstruction of Arnhem, was put out of use. The Municipality of Arnhem and the Waterschap Rijn en IJssel (Water Board Rhine and IJssel) have arranged to place the old pump next to the new Rijngemaal pumping station as a work of art, which was unveiled on January 29th 2015 by a.o. the artist Marcel Smink from Arnhem, who has called the work “The Sphinx“. The statue consists of the original old pump, which is equipped with a wing that also appears in the logo of the manufacturer, but which also refers to the fighting around the bridge during the Battle of Arnhem in September 1944. The U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall has also been honoured: it is his head that has been added to the artwork – the pump was purchased at the time with funds from the “Marshallplan“.

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Arnhem: at the east side of the John Frost bridge a piece of art, “The Sphinx”, by Marcel Smink has been placed in 2015, made from the old diesel pump of the Rijngemaal pumping station from 1945, a wing and American Minister George C. Marshall’s head

From that point on, it only takes a few steps to the Rijnkade Quay, which looks somewhat desolate on the east side of the bridge. Here the St. Jansbeek stream ended – until 2017… But not any longer!

Let us therefore return to the Lauwersgracht city canal and go from there via the Koningsplein Square into the direction of the Beekstraat street. In the times Arnhem was still a fortified city, there was another water mill here, near the current Walloon Church: the Hertogelijke Molen (the Ducal Mill). This mill was already very old: in 1291 damsel Maria van Gelre, the sister of Count Renaud I (Reinald) van Gelre and Zutphen, owned a plot of land there with a water mill on the stream within the ramparts which she donated in 1299 for the establishment of a gasthuis (hospital). Nowadays, the streets around the Stadstheater theatre are called the St. Catharinastraat street and the Gasthuisstraat.

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Arnhem: location of the “Hertogelijke Molen“ (Ducal Mill) on the map of the original course of the St. Jansbeek stream in the 13th century with reference points of nowadays

At that section of the Beekstraat street the St. Jansbeek stream has been brought back at the surface: it flows here through a sleekly designed concrete trench with brick walls and an elevated part for aquatic plants into the direction of the police station. The supplier of the paving stones, Wienerberger BV, indicates on its website that the stream has not been brought back above ground for aesthetic reasons only. The intervention improves water management, the urban climate and biodiversity. The most striking interventions to improve the relationship between city and river is to bring the watercourse above ground and to create “the ceramic red carpet between north and south. The interventions must make the city centre a coherent whole again. Logical resultant is the choice for the baked paving stone Paviona. The brick forms the basis for the entire city centre of Arnhem. In the old town a smaller-sized paving stone has been used with natural stone “borders” – in the post-war reconstruction area a thicker format paving stone with concrete and natural stone details.” Furthermore the fact that the stream is brought above ground allows the rainwater that flows from the lower Spijkerkwartier quarter into the Lauwersgracht city canal to flow into the river Rhine via the stream. In addition, the St. Jansbeek creates a cooling effect of 1 to 3 degrees in summer during periods op hot weather!

The St. Jansbeek stream has been festively opened on December 8th 2017. At the very beginning, it was big news in the city that someone had released some goldfish in the stream. This playful action was not appreciated by the authorities, because goldfish are an exotic species that could endanger the ecosystem in the river. It was ordered that the animals be fished out again – no one knows whether they have succeeded. The chances of the fish ending up in the Rhine will be slim: the water is pumped into the stream from the Lauwersgracht city canal and later again at the Rijnkade Quay. Fish do not survive such obstacles…. Early this year I saw however another fat goldfish hiding in the vegetation of the stream in the area around the “Rainbow Bridge” near the police station! This arch built with coloured glass bricks has been designed by Maria Roossen (*1957) on the occasion of the “Gelderland Biennale 2019”, the entire title of which reads “We Shall Overcome, Always Trust the Progress“.

From the Beekstraat street the stream is led through a culvert under the street in the direction of the City Hall and the Eusebius Church. This is not its historical course: it now flows on the north side of the buildings and no longer on the south side. The supplier of the stones, Wienerberger explains that this way the stream is part of the shopping area to the north of the church. It has also been deliberately decided not to bring the stream at the surface as a continuous line, but in fragments. The first reason: it refers to the romantic English landscape style of Park Sonsbeek, where the stream appears as a surprise in various places. In the city centre, therefore, the various spots have been designed, each with a special atmosphere. Second reason: the stream is intended to act as a connecting element between the northern and southern inner city and should not create a barrier. The fragments of the stream are designed in a way that pedestrians and cyclists can move aaround easily…

The City Hall has been built of reinforced concrete with a natural stone cladding in the style of functionalism. Because the building is standing between the Eusebius Church and the Sint-Walburgiskerk church, it was not allowed to design a block of buildings that would be too solid or too high. In August 1953, the municipal council issued a competition for the design of a new town hall, on which many entries came in. It was not until January 1959 that the council chose the design of architect J.J. Konijnenburg, entitled “Spazio“: the fundation stone was laid on September 18th 1964 and the official opening was on September 12th 1968.

Although the official entrance is on the south side of the building, one can also enter from the Koningsstraat over a wide walkway and a few steps. On the walkway, the history of Arnhem has been stamped in a stainless steel plate, from 1233 on, when Count Otto II of Gelre granted Arnhem city rights.

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Arnhem: on the metal walkway to the city hall the history of the city is written
Geschiedenis van Arnhem bij toegang Stadhuis, uitgeschreven

The modern City Hall is connected to the historical building that has been bought by the Municipality in 1828 to replace the old town hall on the Markt Square, which was on the verge of collapse. On the first floor is the mayor’s office. This Huis van Maarten van Rossum“, which is originally a city castle from the 16th century, had belonged to Duke Karel van Gelre (1467–1538) and after his death from 1539 to the notorious warlord Maarten van Rossum (±1490–1555), who had the house fitted out with an early Renaissance show-off façade, decorated with satyrs. Because these were mistaken for devils and because of the myth-making around Maarten van Rossum, the house was popularly nicknamed “Duivelshuis” (Devil’s House). In addition to the satyrs, the coats of arms of the capitals of the four Quarters of Gelderland are also displayed on the façade, and on the keystones on the outer wall with their designations: besides Arnhem, being “the most pleasant“, Nijmegen was “the oldest“, Roermond “the most brave” and Zutphen “the richest“.

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Arnhem: the satyrs on the “Duivelshuis” (Devil’s house), a city castle from the 16th century belonging to the war lord Maarten van Rossem and which nowadays forms a part of the city hall

The north side of the City Hall is situated close to the street with the St. Jansbeek stream, but on the south side it is overlooking a wide square with a large pond and fountains, which ends on the east side at the Gothic church with the two towers, the St. Walburgiskerk from 1375.

Goldfish might not be welcome in the new St. Jansbeek, but that does not apply to waterfowl. When the stream had just been opened, I saw makeshift “steps” made for the birds to get out of the water, like a carpet-lined gangway. It was a cute scene to see: a mother duck with her nine chicks asleep on the bank! Further downstream, stone steps have been madde to give the animals the chance to get out of the water.

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Arnhem: all ducks in a row, sleeping – with a ramp to the bank of the St. Jansbeek stream near the Eusebius Church
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Arnhem: steps for wildlife from the St. Jansbeek stream to the bank near the Eusebius Church

A little further downstream, the designers of the new stream had opted for the use of old stones in that part of the stream flowing past the Eusebius Church. These were found during the excavation work in the ground on the north side of the church: they are probably stones from the city wall. Archaeologists have also found the skeletons of 600 people there!

Wienerberger BV further states on its website that the design and detailing of the stream refers to the old situation, when the water flowed through the city via a course lined with bricks. Baked stones have been chosen, so that the material of the street continues through the profile of the stream. In addition, this material ages beautifully and ferns and mosses can grow on it. In order to enhance the experience of the different water spots, the banks are finished differently per sub-area. The detailing of the brickwork needed a lot of attention – the different connections required the necessary craftsmanship of the bricklayers.

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Arnhem: in the part of the quay wall of the St. Jansbeek stream near the Eusebius Church old stones are used – ferns and other plants are growing in the joints

The history of the Eusebius Church dates back to 893 when a document mentioned a church dedicated to Martin of Tours and belonged to the Prüm Abbey in the Eifel: Est in Arnheym ecclesia (There is a church in Arnhem). In 1452, construction began on a larger church in a late Gothic style, replacing the Romanesque church dedicated to the early Christian martyr Eusebius from the second century AD. The principal builder was Duke Karel van Gelre (1467–1538), who, as already indicated, also owned the city castle that later belonged to Maarten van Rossum. It was an object of prestige for him: Gelre and Arnhem were a centre of power in European politics. He is also buried in the church, in a tomb monument. In 1578–1579 the church became Protestant and the rich interior was “removed” from the church. In the 19th century the church and certainly the tower were in very poor condition. Due to lack of money, the tower remained unchanged until the Second World War, when it was badly damaged during the Operation Market Garden in September–October 1944 and largely collapsed in the winter of 1944–1945. The rebuilt Eusebius Church is also known as an “icon of reconstruction“: the then National Inspector for Art Protection and director of the Rijksbureau voor de Monumentenzorg (the predecessor of the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands), Jan Kalf, had come to the city soon after the liberation of Arnhem to have a look at the destroyed monuments. He was convinced that the Eusebius Church should be rebuilt “to give the city its icon and the people back the church building“. He enlisted the Amsterdam architect Berend Tobia Boeyinga (1886–1969), who was well-known as a designer of (protestant) churches. During the large-scale restoration (which lasted from 1947 to 1964), the upper part of the tower was completed to the design of the architect from Groningen Theo Verlaan (1912–1997). In the crypts below the church the foundations can be seen of the St. Maartenskerk church, built in the 10th and 11th centuries, which were excavated during the reconstruction in the 1960s.

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Arnhem: around the entrance gate of the Eusebius Church the history of the church has been elaborately indicated in marvellous wrought iron work

Also in the 21st century, the church has been radically restored. In 2009 it became clear that the tufa cladding of the tower was defective: chunks of stone began to fall down. The fear that the entire natural stone cladding of the tower would have to be replaced turned out not to be well founded. In 2011, the actual restoration of the upper part of the tower, the “lantern”, started. In 2013, the installation of the weathercock with its gold leaf cladding was the culmination of the restoration of the lantern. In 2014, the restoration of the second part of the tower started. A significant part of the tufa cladding was replaced by new natural stone blocks, which can withstand the weather influences better than the old type of tufa. A few years (and many millions of euros) later, on September 21st 2019, the restored tower was opened by Prince Charles together with the Mayor of Arnhem. The Prince of Wales also unveiled a plaque celebrating 75 years of the Battle of Arnhem with the text in Dutch, with an English translation: “This plaque was unveiled on September 21st 2019 by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Arnhem and the completion of the restoration of the tower (2009–2019)“. On the other side, the left side, of the entrance gate to the tower another plaque has been placed. It reads in Dutch, translated into English: “This Tower destroyed by acts of war has been restored and renewed in times of reconstruction and restoration. Mayor Chr. G. Matser laid this stone on June 7th, 1959”.

On the north side of the Eusebius Church, the Jewish memorial has been on display since 2019. It consists of a suitcase as a symbol for the deportation of Jews and a Torah scroll as a symbol of the Jewish tradition. According to the artist Betty Jacobs, whose grandparents were murdered in Sobibor, the wide pedestal on which these two objects are placed invites you to sit down and think about what happened in the war, such as the deportation from Arnhem of almost 2.000 Jews, of whom only about 500 have returned – as is also stated on the edge of the pedestal on the side of the church. It was been unveiled on November 17th, 2019 in the presence of many Jews from many countries of the world. Not only the date is symbolic (in November 1942 the largest deportation of Jews from Arnhem took place), but also the place of this monument: it stands on the Kippenmarkt Square, that doesn’t exist anymore but that bordered the Jonas Daniël Meijerplaats Square (named after the Arnhem-born Jonas Daniël Meijer, 1780– 1834, who was the first Jewish lawyer in the Netherlands), where the Israelite religious school used to be, near the Synagoge from 1853 of which the main entrance is on the Pastoorstraat street and the back exit on the side of the square. That’s where Mr. Meijer had been born at the time. So the memorial stands now at the place where once the centre of Jewish life was…

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Arnhem: near the Eusebius Church (Kippenmarkt/Jonas Daniël Meijerplaats quare) the Jewish memorial has been placed in 2019 designed by Betty Jacobs in remembrance of the Jews from Arnhem who have been transported during the Second World War and who have never returned

The Arnhem memorial for the Second World War is now located on the southern part of the Audrey Hepburnplein Square on a beautiful prominent spot. The bronze-cast image is called “Mens tegen Macht” (Human against Power) and depicts a seated, naked male figure raising his arms in defense. The nudity of the male figure symbolises “the innocence, truth and purity that perish against the falsehood of a brutal war power“. In 1947, the sculptor Gijs Jacobs van den Hof from Arnhem had been commissioned by the municipality to create a memorial. In 1952 the statue was presented during the art exhibition in Park Sonsbeek.

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Arnhem: close-up of the memorial for the Second World War “Mens tegen Macht” (Human against Power) from 1953 by Gijs Jacobs van den Hof is placed on the Kerkplein Square near the St. Jansbeek stream
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Arnhem: close-up of the memorial for the Second World War “Mens tegen Macht” (Human against Power) from 1953 by Gijs Jacobs van den Hof is placed on the Kerkplein Square near the St. Jansbeek stream

In several places bridges have been built to enable an easy crossing from one bank to another. Between the Jewish Monument and the memorial “Mens tegen Macht” lies the Vitessebrug Bridge, which has been donated to the city by the football club for its 125th anniversary (1889–2017). Two wrought iron eagles, the emblem of Vitesse, have been incorporated in the fence of the bridge railing. It is a reference to the Zwanenbrug (Swan Bridge) in Park Sonsbeek!

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Arnhem: the „Vitessebrug“ Bridge on the Kerkplein Square with the eagle, the emblem of the Football Club, that was offered to the city to the occasion of its 125th anniversary in 2017

From here the St. Jansbeek stream takes a sharp turn to the south: into the Nieuwstraat street. Here the stream is much wider and flows in the middle of the street which is no longer accessible to car traffic. This led to some near misses in the beginning, where cars were hanging partly above the stream: people used to turn left from the main road through the town, the Centrumring, at the Weerdjesstraat street into the Nieuwstraat… After large boulders had been placed on both sides of the side road, this problem was solved! It’s very nice to see this wide water flowing straight towards the Rhine in combination with the wide sidewalks on both sides – it doesn’t matter whether one looks towards the south, to the river, or towards the north, to the city centre!

Then the St. Jansbeek stream arrives at the Rijnkade Quay. There is another waterfall, similar to the Great Waterfall in Park Sonsbeek: here too, natural stones form the backdrop of the rustling water. With a last waterfall, the stream flows into the Lower Rhine.

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Arnhem: at the Rijnkade Quay the St. Jansbeek stream throws itself from the Nieuwstraat street into the direction of the river Lower Rhine with an great waterfall

The Rijnkade Quay was created around 1860 when the city walls on the side of the river were demolished. Beautiful mansions have been built with a nice view on the river. Many houses did not survive the acts of war during the Battle of Arnhem and in the following months. Yet there is a monumental building, which is a listed monument. The semi-detached mansion at no. 3 was built between 1853 and 1860 in an eclectic style with a rich ornamentation, which has influences of the Venetian Baroque. The stately, high house is a real eye-catcher with the beautiful colours mellow yellow and white. It has been one of the first houses built on the demolished fortification walls on the side of the river Rhine. It also miraculously survived the Battle of Arnhem. Another listed item is of a hydraulic nature: this control lock with cast iron rack and pinion is an important example of the developments in industry and technology in the 19th century. One control lock is situated at Rijnkade Quay no. 143 and another at no. 28. They are seen as a special expression of the drainage of the landscape around Arnhem, with rather steep slopes towards the north, through which water flows (including the St. Jansbeek stream that was important for the development of Arnhem) and sewers find their way to the river Rhine.

The lower part of the Rijnkade is wide and inviting for a walk along the riverside. The view over the river and the bridges to the east (John Frost Bridge) and to the west (Nelson Mandela Bridge) is beautiful: one really feels like being close to the water. Not only nowadays, but also in the past, as this photo from 1971 shows!

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Arnhem: view on the John Frost Bridge over the Lower Rhine upstream from the Rijnkade Quay
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Arnhem: view on the Nelson Mandela Bridge over the Lower Rhine downstream from the Rijnkade Quay
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Arnhem: view on the Rijnkade Quay and the river Rijn towards the east with the ASM shipyard ant he south bank (summer 1971)

There also are many interesting items on the lower part of the Rijnkade, such as a berth for historic ships: ships that have signed up at the “Schepencaroussel” (Literally merry-go-round for ships) are allowed to stay for three months, passers-by a week. In certain harbours throughout the Netherlands this organisation has made arrangements for historic ships to moor. An old crane is placed on the quay. The harbour tug Anders J. Goedkoop, that has been built at the former Arnhem Shipbuilding Company (ASM) is moored on the quay as well: it is owned by a foundation that wants to preserve the heritage of the former shipyard and to show it to everyone, including by restoring and preserving this boat for Arnhem.

The view from the John Frost Bridge is beautiful as well: here one can see the transition from the high Rijnkade Quay, from the park that has been named after the Dutch soldier in British service who was killed during the Battle of Arnhem Jacob Groenewoud (1916–1944) and the low quay which has already been rearranged as sloping green embankment with steps made of stone. Concrete plans have been made for applying such a transition from the high and low quays to other areas at the Rijnkade Quay. This is not a mere “luxury problem”, but rather a necessity: research done a few years ago has shown that the Rijnkade Quay, being one of the “dikes” along the main rivers, is not safe over a distance of just over a kilometer in case of extremely high water and that adjustments have to be made. As part of the so-called Highwater protection programme, an alliance of the 21 Water boards and Rijkswaterstaat (Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management), the quay must therefore be adapted. To this end, plans have been draawn up in 2018 and work is expected to start in 2022–2023. In an enlightening video of the Waterschap Rijn en IJssel (Water Board Rhine and IJssel), the new plans for the Rijnkade Quay are shown for the area from the so-called “Coberco terrein”, the site of the former diary factory, at the east side of the John Frost Bridge downstream to the Boterdijk Quay to the west of the Nelson Mandela Bridge.

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Arnhem: view from the John Frost Bridge towards the west on the Rijnkade Quay with normal water levels
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Arnhem: view on the grass slope of the Rijnkade Quay near the Province Headquarters and the resistance memorial of Arnhem

The modifications to the Rijnkade Quay will also affect the mouth of the St. Jansbeek stream. Until now the water has still to be pumped over the dike at the elevated part of the Rijnkade Quay after which it flows with a waterfall on the low quay, but when the project is finished, the water will be able to flow freely from the Nieuwstraat street into the Rhine! A nice and interesting prospect.