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Left Side Hall - Expo Brussels 1935

Left Side Hall at the Exhibition Expo Brussels 1935
© E. Sergysels
Architect(s) : Jos. Van Neck

Set back from the Esplanade d'Honneur and beyond the Palais de l'Art Ancien was the façade of the left-hand side hall.

Divided into five departments, the Army's participation covered an area of almost 2,000 m2.

The first of these sections summarised army life in peacetime and dealt with the hygiene and physical education of the soldier. Here the visitor could see the considerable efforts made since the war to increase the comfort of the troops. Bright and clean rooms with central heating, spacious dormitories, refectories and model ablutions rooms were installed everywhere.

The teaching material used for the training of recruits is of the highest standard. The Belgian army has electric targets and an electro-magnetic pointing device of Belgian invention, the patent for which has been applied for by several countries.

The second section gave the visitors an idea of the mobilised army. A battle station set up in the camouflaged ruins of a house evoked the tragic hours of the war. Further on, a field oven, whose sides poured out beautiful golden breads, and a set of kitchen utensils reminded us of the importance of food in the organisation of a campaign.

The public could see up close an advanced surgical post, comprising an operating room, a radiology-radioscopy room and an anaesthesia room, equipped with the most modern instruments. This post can be set up in open country in two hours.

The aircraft lookout post with its precise equipment showed the population how their safety is monitored.

A large section was dedicated to art in the army. About a hundred works by officers and non-commissioned officers were on display: paintings, sculptures, drawings, songs, musical scores, historical and literary publications, embossed metals, and decorative objects of all kinds.

Science occupied the central stand, with its hall of honour decorated with the portrait of our sovereigns. It was devoted to didactic and scientific instruments, notebooks and courses used in our military art institutes.

Finally, the important civil and industrial cooperation at the army stand attracted attention. Of particular interest was the aeronautics stand, where a fighter aircraft with its parts exposed and labelled was on display, as well as a reconnaissance aircraft entirely designed and built in Belgium.

The participation also included: a manoeuvring ground in relief; a stand showing the methods of gymnastics used in the army; another allowing one to see the evolution of uniforms from 1834 to 1934; another evoking the military organisation in the Congo, etc.

This section was inaugurated on Saturday 4 May by Mr Albert Devèze, Minister of National Defence, accompanied by officers from his cabinet, General Duvivier, Majors Lam-binon and Jooris, in the presence of the Exhibition authorities.

In front of a large audience, Lieutenant General Demolder, director of the Cartographic Institute and president of the group, welcomed the presence of the Minister and recalled that the military section was the result of the dedication of the whole army. Its organisers had truly achieved military solidarity.

Mr. Devèze associated himself with the praise given to his collaborators by Lieutenant General Demolder and expressed the wish that this participation would allow the Belgian people to know better the measures taken for the defence of the Fatherland.

The Minister insisted on military training in peacetime. The army must be a school of sports education. The men who come out of it must be strong and solid. "The public", the Minister concluded, "will see by visiting these different stands that the Belgian soldier is morally and physically the best treated".

Apart from the Army, the left side hall housed the navy, inland navigation, aeronautics, education and tourism.

The aeronautics department displayed illuminated dioramas of our airfields in Haeren, Zoute and Deurne. The public could visit an aircraft in working order. Another complete aircraft, but with the canvas removed, showed the interior structure of an aeroplane, with all its parts and the indication of their name and function. Numerous aircraft engines of various makes were also displayed on the stand, which was complemented by a profusion of aerial maps, photos of localities seen from the air, etc. What was striking was the practical way in which the air safety service is designed. It consists of ingenious line markers, emergency fields, weather and radio installations.

At the sports stand, none of these had been neglected. Billiards, swimming, small ball, archery, tennis, football, etc., were all on display, with an exhibition of cups, trophies and banners recalling ardently contested victories.
Then came the compartments where the progress made in the field of education was highlighted.

In the foreground were the results of the education of our vocational schools, from which emerged the craftsmen to whom we owe products of impeccable execution. It would be impossible to list all the institutions where wood, metal, paper and cardboard have undergone particularly successful transformations. The professional schools for lingerie, lace, fashion items and artificial flowers represented the female activity in this field.

The organisers of this section were keen to emphasise the results of the methods of physical exercise, drawing and the making of small items. The basic principle of this teaching is observation. The Decroly method was therefore given a prominent place. School models, kindergartens with a whole range of toys, homework books, a multitude of objects showing a naive spirit of imitation on the part of small children illustrated the adage "that it is advisable to awaken, develop and blossom nature in children". Tiny trees, coloured friezes, cute drawings, childish games, hand-woven pieces and many other things that exercised visuality and judgement could also be seen with amused curiosity.

The works of hygiene and assistance presented an impressive synthesis of their activity. They were as numerous as they were varied: the National Work for the Blind, the Work for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind of Woluwé Saint-Lambert, the Workers' Education of Belgium and the People's Universities, the Brussels Identification Office, the National Work for the Invalids of the War, the Invalids with foresight, the League against venereal disease, the School of Nurses, the Entraide Familiale of Brussels, the Crèche du Nid of Ixelles l'Œuvre nationale des habitations ouvrières, l'Œuvre nationale des victimes du travail, l'Armée du Salut, les Commissions d'assistance, les Bibliothèques publiques, l'Union des jeunesses ouvrières, la Centrale wallonne des auberges de jeunesse, la Ligue contre la pollution des eaux, le Bureau international du travail, l'Union belge pour la Société des Nations, la Ligue internationale contre le rhumatisme, le Home familial de Bruxelles l'Œuvre des fêtes dans les hôpitaux et hospices de Bruxelles; the Federation of Insurance Companies, etc. , etc.

The Belgian Red Cross had an important place in the Hall. During the last ten years, this institution has devoted more than 30 million francs to relief actions on the occasion of disasters and calamities. It has also taken the largest part in all international relief actions.

At present, 60,000 Belgian children are part of it. The Red Cross also has a civilising mission in the Congo through its medical assistance posts for the natives, its fight against leprosy and the training of colonial ambulance drivers.

The Belgian National Tuberculosis Association, which groups together all the organisations that exist to fight this scourge, has created one hundred and six dispensaries, twenty-six sanatoria, five preventoria as well as a certain number of similar colonies and four homes for the preservation of children.

For its part, the Belgian National League against Cancer, under the high patronage of Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth, has set itself the task of fighting this scourge by all scientific and social means.

Its action of assistance extended to approximately 5,000 patients and their families.

The Œuvre nationale de l'Enfance also had an extensive involvement.

For the sake of completeness, we must also mention, among the various health and assistance organisations, the Royal Society of the Great Outdoors for Children; the Belgian National Mental Health League; the National Committee against Alcoholism; the Carnegie Hero Fund, which helps widows and orphans of heroes who have died as a result of their devotion or who have suffered harm as a result of their devotion; the Œuvre du Grand Air pour les Petits of the City of Ghent; the Diesterweg of Antwerp; the Institut Royal des Sourds-Muets et Aveugles of Liège; the Institut du Sacré-Coeur de Jésus; the Assistance Publique of Liège.

The social services of the Caisse Générale d'Epargne et de Retraite also participated in the Exhibition. Statistics showed visitors that the capital managed by the Caisse Générale Epargne et Retraite had risen from 47 million in 1875 to 15 billion and 47 million in 1935.

The various political parties had set up social stands where they showed the immense work carried out by the mutual benefit societies and the medical-pharmaceutical services.

The League of Large Families introduced visitors to the results of the 1930 law on family allowances.

The exhibition of the Œuvre des Loisirs du Travailleur was particularly suggestive: we saw DIY products made by modest craftsmen who, with tireless patience, created works of art, some of which were quite remarkable: There were small locomotives, miniature boats, chiselled boxes, wrought iron objects, musical instruments, wreaths, work tables, cushions, carpets, mosaics, blown glass, wood and also works of painting and sculpture.

There was also a stand for home art from Romania, Hungary and Mexico, with handicrafts.

Several stands were set up by the Belgian and foreign Chambers of Commerce. The Latin American House, decorated with beautiful paintings by the painter Charles Michel, evoked in a pictorial way the production or transformation of the various vegetable and mineral resources of the Latin American countries. Statistics showed that Belgium sold more than 858 million francs worth of goods to these nations and bought 1 billion 683 million francs from them in the course of a single year.
The Belgian-Estonian Chamber of Commerce in Tallinn and the Belgian-Estonian Chamber of Commerce in Brussels occupied a compartment where abundant and lively documentation showed the progress made in commercial relations between the two countries.

The same was true of Lithuania, which presented, in a striking summary, the essence of its commercial and industrial activity.

Other countries, Spain, Japan, etc. also had a trade stand in this building.
An important part of the Palais was devoted to the navy and the activity of our ports.
The stand of the Maritime Interests Collective in this hall had five main sections, namely:
The State's marine services;
Belgian ports;
Maritime shipping;
Maritime fishing;
grouped together in such a way as to form, by means of a well-suited general decoration, a harmonious whole in a bright colour.

In order to make the visit to the stand of the "Collectivité des Intérêts Maritimes" as attractive as possible, the organisers had banished the traditional tables and diagrams cluttered with lines and figures, and devoid of interest for the layman, who does not bother to try to grasp their meaning.
The material on display consisted mainly of ship models, scale models of roadsteads and ports with complete installations and floating equipment in miniature, and pictorial statistics which speak to the mind and enable the visitor, without requiring any effort of thought, to grasp immediately what was intended to be represented.

In the section of the maritime services of the State, the following were shown
I. - Maritime services of the Scheldt: A
A model of the Scheldt from Antwerp to Vlissingen, showing the bottom and the water surface at low tide, with all the lighting and beaconing systems, dykes, etc. (Scale: l/5,000th for the lengths, l/200th for the depths). A model of the right bank of the Scheldt in Antwerp, from the Steen to the Pilotage Building, with a representation of the floating equipment of the maritime services of the Scheldt in Antwerp, and of commercial ships. (Scale: 0.005 metre by metre).
II - Maritime services of the coast: A model of the port of Ostend, from the ends of the booms to the Smet de Nayer bridge showing the various services of the Navy (workshops, buildings, floating equipment) and the State Marine School. (Scale: 0.005 m. per metre).

The automatic light source changer of the Blankenberghe lighthouse in operation, mounted on an elevated platform to which the public had access. This device showed how, when the electric current fails for any reason, an acetylene burner automatically replaces the electric lamp, thus ensuring the necessary continuity of the lighting.

Life-saving equipment, a model of the Ostend motor lifeboat, with hangar and slipway, a map of the coast with the life-saving stations, their range and their activity.

A schematic map of the organisation of the pilotage service, models of the old and new floating equipment assigned to this service. Reduction of buoys and beacons.

Finally, statistical tables on the development of the Ostend-Dover Line's steamship service (equipment, traffic), models of various types of steamship that served or are serving the line.

This line has always had the fastest and most modern fleet in the Channel. It was the first to put paddle steamers on the line at 22 knots and later turbine steamers at over 24 knots. It was also the first to equip its liners with wireless telephony. Finally, very recently, the Administration of the Navy had the "Prince Baudouin" trunk built, a fast ship of the Trous-étroits type. Its engines develop 20,000 horsepower. The entire Belgian industry was involved in the construction of this vessel, which is made entirely of Belgian materials and which, from the technical point of view as well as from the point of view of comfort and decoration, is a marvel.

III. - The Maritime Police exhibited: old registers and documents used for the enrolment, registration, etc. of seamen. Documentation relating to the evolution of the professional, disciplinary and social status of the trade, to the action of organisations concerned with the welfare of seafarers, both on board and in port, etc.

IV. - Maritime education showed: the general organisation of maritime education in Belgium. Didactic material, nautical instruments, pupils' work, models and photographs of the schools on land, models of the various Belgian school ships, planispheres with plots of the voyages made, etc.
The methods used in Belgium for the ophthalmological examination of young people destined for a maritime career.
A beautiful fresco by the artist De Pauw summarised the studies and work involved in preparing for the career of a naval officer.

V. - Dredging and salvage: the dredging companies "Entreprises Decloedt et Fils" of Zee-Brugge and the "Société Générale de Dragages" of Antwerp, whose operations are closely linked to the maintenance of the passes in maritime waters, as well as the Cooperative Society "Union de Remorquage et de Sauvetage" of Antwerp, had a stand in the State Navy section, consisting of models of their floating equipment, photographs, graphics, etc.

In the Belgian Ports section they were represented:
I. - The Port of Antwerp, which exhibited, among other things, a large-scale model of the port with its basins, quays, rail network, fixed and floating lifting equipment, sheds, warehouses and shops, oil installations, etc., as well as a large-scale model of the Kruisschans lock.
II - The Port of Ghent, whose contribution included a large-scale model of the port with its outbuildings and equipment, photographs on paper and glass, documentation on the development of traffic, etc.
III. - The Port of Bruges-Zeebrugge, which, in addition to the overall model of the port, exhibited a model of the ferry landing stage, a crane reduction, ship models, including one ferry (Société Belgo-Anglaise de Ferry-Boats), photographs, statistical information, etc.

In addition, the Maritime Administration displayed in this section statistical tables with pictures, concerning the evolution of the Belgian merchant fleet from 1840 to the present day and the share of the Belgian flag in the general movement of shipping, as well as a schematic table of the regular shipping lines by Belgian ships.

The section on maritime fishing also included an important contribution from the "Œuvre Royale de l'Ibis", showing its general organisation and the results achieved in preparing its pupils for the tough job of fishing.

The Administration des Ponts et Chaussées also had its own stands: the state of Belgian roads was commented on in a suggestive way, notably by the presentation of a series of samples of stonework, swimming concrete and paving.

The Belgian shipbuilding industry was represented by the "Chantiers Navals John Coc-kerill" of Hoboken-Antwerp, which presented various models of ships - liners for the Ostend-Dover line in particular - built at the shipyards; by the Société Anonyme "Be-liard, Crighton & Co", shipbuilders and repairers in Antwerp and Ostend, and by the "Chantier Naval de Rupelmonde". These companies showed models of the ships they built, as well as photographs of the shipyards. A number of firms specialising in the construction of ship's gear and equipment also contributed to the shipbuilding section.

The Armement Maritime section included the collaboration of the Belgian shipping companies:
"Compagnie Maritime Belge" (Lloyd Royal);
"Armement Deppe;
"Compagnie Dens-Océan;
"Belgian Gulf Oil Company;
The section of the Collectivité des Intérêts Maritimes was inaugurated by Mr. Spaak, Minister of Transport.
The Minister was received by Mr. Devos, Director General of the Navy, who underlined the effort made so far in Belgium to inculcate in the masses a love of the sea.

Minister Spaak also inaugurated the aeronautics stand where he was received by General Chabot, president of the group, in the presence of Generals Baron Greindl and Baron Baltia and Colonel Daumerie, director of civil aeronautics.

General Chabot and the Minister exchanged brief speeches, and then the Minister went through the stands, which he admired for their layout and happy arrangement.

The Public Interest Services group was inaugurated by M. du Bus de Wamaffe, Minister of the Interior and Hygiene, in the presence of M. Max, Mayor of Brussels.

Mr. Carton de Tournay, president of the group, surrounded by his colleagues, welcomed the Minister. Mr. Carton and Mr. du Bus de Warnaffe then highlighted the activities of the major national assistance and hygiene organisations.

The National Education Exhibition was opened by Mr. Bovesse, Minister of Public Education, to whom Mr. Cyrille Van Overbergh welcomed and honoured the stand.

The inauguration of the Sports stand was done without any pomp and circumstance. The Count of Baillet-Latour gave the opening speech, to which Mr. Liégeois replied on behalf of the Minister of Education.

© Le Livre d'Or de l'Exposition Universelle de Bruxelles 1935