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Marine Pavilion - Expo Antwerp 1930

Marine Pavilion at the Exhibition Expo Antwerp 1930
© Exposition d'Anvers 1930

The participation of the Administration of the Navy in the maritime exhibition was presented in a special pavilion located opposite the halls occupied by the Belgian section.

The Administration endeavoured to give the public a glimpse of all the manifestations of its action and was surrounded by a number of exhibitors whose activities were related to its own.
General organisation of the Administration. In front of the main entrance, a table topped by a cone showed in a schematic way the general organisation of the maritime services of the State: senior management, central services divided into 6 offices established in Brussels, two executive directorates operating in Antwerp and Ostend with their technical divisions; finally, the other cogs and bodies reporting to senior management and collaborating in its task. To complete this central point, display cabinets contained the collections of laws and regulations that the Navy ensures are executed and that are the basis of the functioning of its services; the whole was surmounted by a sign in silver letters, indirectly illuminated: "Marine - Zeewezen". Next was a platform with chairs and a table, opposite which tables and maps showed the activities of the Comité Maritime International.
Waterways. The central part of the pavilion was then occupied by two large-scale maps of the Scheldt and the Belgian coast - the Administration's field of activity - drawn up with the aim of showing the navigable routes and the means of ensuring navigation in the river and in the access routes to the coastal ports. Figures marked the landmarks, lights, buoys and beacons.

The equipment in use in the hydrographic, buoyage, lighting and pilotage services was represented around these charts by models of old equipment and equipment currently in service: pilot boats, lightships, buoys of all models.

A remarkable piece was the lighting apparatus designed to be installed in the Ostend lighthouse, which is arranged to ensure the continuous operation of the lighthouse when, due to the interruption of the current, the normal source of lighting, the electric lamp goes out.

The device was working, with a switch allowing the power failure to be demonstrated.
The central part of the pavilion contained aerial photographs of the main installations of the Belgian ports and a map of the Scheldt drawn in 1788-89, as well as information tables on the activity of the maritime inspection and tonnage measurement services, the forms in use in these services and the documents they issue.

The perimeter of the pavilion was occupied by various stands, the first of which, at the back, related to the Merchant Navy and the activity of Belgian ports, the other to the Seaman's Statute.

Merchant Navy and ports. Diagrams showed the development of the national merchant navy, its transformation from sailing ships to steamers and motor ships, and finally its current consistency.
Tables related to the movement of Belgian and foreign ports showed the advantageous place Antwerp occupies among the largest ports in the world, in terms of the number of incoming ships, the tonnage and the size of the ships.

The Antwerp-Strasbourg Committee presented maps of the water connections between Antwerp and the Rhine and diagrams of the traffic between the two ports.
Seafarer's status. The seaman's status stand included a register of the matriculation of seafarers sailing under the Belgian flag, kept at the Maritime Commissariat in Antwerp, and a filing cabinet in which this reorganised matriculation was kept from 1930 onwards.

In addition to the crew roll forms, there was a historical note from the Conseil professionnel de la marine marchande (Professional Council of the Merchant Navy), the laws and regulations governing the situation of seafarers, and documentation concerning the radio-medical consultation service organised in Belgium for the use of ships without a doctor. A table showed the activity of the Fund for the relief and welfare of seamen sailing under the Belgian flag; another, provided by the International Labour Office, listed the international conventions relating to maritime labour, indicating the countries that had ratified them and the number of seamen concerned.

Ostend-Dover liner service. Ten models represented the most characteristic liners that have been in service since 1843; one model showed the exterior of the liner Leopold II, which was converted into a hospital ship during the First World War; the "Prinses Astrid", the first of the ships built in 1930, was placed in the foreground and illuminated.
A map of Europe showed the travel time between London and the main European cities via the Ostend-Dover line; a diagram showed the development of the movement of passengers and parcels; a table gave the characteristics of all the types of ships successively put into service since the beginning.
Maritime education. The Antwerp Higher School of Navigation, the School of Maritime Navigation in Ostend, the Maritime Association for School Ships and the Royal Charity of the "Ibis" presented photographs of their facilities, didactic tables, nautical instruments and books used in teaching, historical overviews, attendance diagrams, and student works at four separate stands; In addition, the Maritime Association has a model of the training ship "L'Avenir", the Royal Work of the "Ibis", models of the various boats and nets used by Belgian fishermen.

Preparatory and secondary education was represented by the industrial schools, two groups of Sea Scouts based in Antwerp, and the schools for boatmen's children presented by the "Nationale Schippers-bond" of Antwerp.
The Industrial School for Labour Chaplains exhibited a large number of works by students from its drawing, tracing, boiler making and fitting workshops.
The furniture and trinkets in the office-lounge adjoining the pavilion were made in its cabinet-making and ironmongery workshops, the models being appropriate to existing premises on board the ships.

Maritime Rescue.
1°) At the coast: The Administration presented a very complete stand about the organisation of its nine lifeboat stations at the Belgian coast, a model of the Ostend two-engine lifeboat with its hangar and launch track, the equipment of the rowing boats, photographs of the latter and of the operations involved in a lifeboat competition, the trophy, the prize of these competitions, and a to-and-fro with a breech buoy.
A lifeboat on its trolley, part of the coast's equipment, was installed outside the pavilion, and a Red Cross post, such as those that exist on the Belgian coast, was set up to ensure the assistance of this organisation in the rescue service.

2°) A ship's lifeboat with a radio and searchlight, as required on certain large liners by the London Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, was placed outside, along a side façade, and a reduction of a ship's lifeboat with its equipment, presented by the firm Donche et Beuckeleers of Antwerp completed the section.

3°) Salvage of stricken ships: Two paintings by the artist Gaudio represented two types of maritime disaster; the Société de Remorquage et de Sauvetage, exhibited models of its salvage ships and of a salvaged ship with the hull plating that sealed the breach in the hull, the cause of the disaster, in addition to photographs of salvage operations carried out by it.
A collection of photographs of ships damaged in various ways was presented by specialist photographer Rubbens from Antwerp.
Hendrickx presented the rockets, fireworks and ammunition used in the navy.

4°) Rescue of persons and help for drowned persons: The Royal Federation of Swimming and Rescue exhibited the cups won in various competitions as well as drawings showing how to behave in the water and how to take a drowned person to a safe place.
Remembrance. This stand contained models of remarkable ships that sailed under the Belgian flag and of Belgian ships that were sunk during the war. There was also the Golden Book of the captains and officers of the Belgian Merchant Navy, an old flag of the Zeemansbond.

Some souvenirs of the "Belgica" and maps of the Antarctic regions recalled the voyages of Commandant de Gerlache to the polar regions.

Maritime League. Propaganda in favour of the maritime idea was presented by the Ligue Maritime, which exhibited paintings relating to its activity, a series of posters and drawings relating to Belgian characters who have distinguished themselves in the navy at various times.

The general decoration of the pavilion was carried out along a very sober line by Delamarre & Cerf of Brussels, who were responsible for the complete interior installation. Paintings by the painter André Lynen - a lifeboat on the coast, a liner in the port of Ostend, the entrance to the port - happily enhanced it by showing that the material on display also inspired the artists.

©Le livre d'or de l'Exposition Internationale Coloniale, Maritime et d'Art Flamand - Anvers 1930