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Grand Duchy of Luxembourg - Expo Liege 1939

Grand Duchy of Luxembourg at the Exhibition Expo Liege 1939
© Kessels
Architect(s) : Montrieux, Rousch, Selerin et Snyers, Thill

The PALAIS DU GRAND-DUCHÊ DE LUXEMBOURG was built on the right bank of the main avenue, following the Belgian palaces.

A large cantilevered glass roof, cut horizontally by thin cords, illuminated the hall of honour. Two gigantic tubes hung from the façade and surrounded a magnificent coat of arms of the country. A very decorative title crossed the upper part. The outside ramp, with its original plank railing, added relief to an ensemble of excellent architectural composition.

The interior, which was very well designed, was richly decorated with frescoes by various Luxembourg artists.


The series of large Belgian industrial palaces running from the main entrance of Bressoux to the Gay Village Mosan was interrupted at the cable car station by the very attractive Palais du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg. Its mass itself did not detract from the harmony of the whole: the framework and construction had been established according to the same plans as the other buildings. The work had even been carried out by the Société coopérative de l'Exposition. However, the organisers of the Grand Ducal participation had succeeded in giving it an original appearance, through both the interior and exterior decoration. The latter had been entrusted to some good Luxembourg artists, under the direction of the architect Mr. Arthur Thill. On the outside, attention was drawn to a large ironwork coat of arms, and inside, valuable frescoes depicted the applications of water in industry and in private life.

The Palace covered a built-up area of about 900 square metres. The participation was in fact much larger, as large areas around the pavilion were occupied by open-air exhibitors. In addition, across the street on the Lido esplanade, there was a large, well-equipped restaurant where visitors could sample the culinary specialities and beer and wine of the country. This added to the brilliance of the Luxembourg participation.

As will be seen later, this was more than an official representation. It was a brilliant and important section, abundantly documented and of the greatest interest. Luxembourg's effort to give as much prominence as possible to its participation in the 1939 Liège Exhibition is all the more commendable in that the country is not suited to major hydraulic engineering works, the fundamental theme of the event.

The participation was directed by Mr. F. Simon, Chief Engineer at the Luxembourg Ministry of Public Works, General Commissioner of the Government. The Deputy Commissioner General was Mr. A. Diederich, Secretary General of the S. A. Minière et Métallurgique de Rodange. Mr. J. Schroeder, a Public Works engineer, acted as Secretary General.


The building consisted of two distinct parts, both of which stood out on the main façade: a technical-scientific section and an industrial section. The entrance was through a richly decorated hall of honour, the spaces of which were reserved for the first section, which was made up of the participations of the public administrations of the State as well as the Communes of Luxembourg and Esch-sur-Alzette.

In the centre, a topographical map in relief showed the country's water supply. It gave an idea of the extent of the various water pipes and the difficulties encountered in laying them.

The Public Works Administration then presented the construction of a well in the Moselle valley and a relay station in an existing local network. These two studies were remarkable for several novel and ingenious mechanical applications. The Geological Service of this administration exhibited geological sections related to the formation of the springs.

In a neighbouring stand, the two water distribution syndicates of the country, the northern and southern ones, highlighted the importance of their installations of inter-communal and international interest. This participation naturally complemented the topographical map already mentioned.

The Agricultural Service showed achievements in the field of drainage, watercourse regulation and watercourse pipelines at the passage of localities, while the Administration of Water and Forests drew attention to fish catching devices, as well as to statistics on fish farming.

This group of central administrations was completed by the participation of the cities of Luxembourg and Esch-sur-Alzette. The former, in a particularly remarkable stand, illustrated, by means of a large luminous board, the path followed by urban water, from its source to its return to the watercourse, after having been used for all purposes and after having undergone purification treatment. Thus, in its final stage, the model represented the Beggen wastewater treatment plant.

The City of Esch happily reported on its efforts to provide abundant, safe water and to dispose of waste water. A model of a bathhouse was on display.

In this large hall, the Tourism Department had lined the high walls with large canvas paintings of the capital.

The large hall that followed on the right was reserved for the second section of the Luxembourg participation, i.e. the industrial exhibitors.

Going around to the right, one could see successively :
A large valve with a diameter of 600 mm and a hydraulic press of considerable dimensions (Fonderie Duchscher et C°);
An original stand of the Canoe Club of Luxembourg giving an idea of the possibilities of water sports
A representation, in the form of a large artistic painting, of beer production, organised by the Brewers Federation
A stand of the Echternach Mineral Waters;
Showcases containing special taps (Céo-deux) and measuring devices (Ateliers de Construction de Diekirch);
A stand of the thermal establishments of Mondorf operated by the State;
A collective stand of the Société des Chaux de Contern and the Société des Ciments luxembourgeois, showing the relationship of these industries with water;
A stand reserved for ceramic tiles (Cérabati) used in the building industry (a shower cubicle was set up);
- A stand reserved for slate quarries (Haut-Martelange);
- A participation of the "Radio-Luxembourg" broadcasting company, with photos of equipment and a model of the broadcasting station.

It should also be noted that a tourist information office was permanently in operation in this room, with the collaboration of the main tourist offices of the country.

The centre of the hall was occupied by a splendid luminous fountain highlighting a whole range of sheet piles from an important metallurgical factory (Minière et Métallurgique de Rodange). The back wall was lined with a large map of the country showing the waterways with a whole range of related industries, including old mills. A balcony which could be accessed from the outside gave a good view of the Palace. A beautiful stand of the Fédération des Comices viticoles had been installed there.

Outside, there was an imposing luminous fountain belonging to another large metallurgical company (A.R.B.E.D.), which was also used to display sheet piling. This fountain on the left of the Palace was a counterpart to another ceramic one on the right (Cerabati). A flagpole, formed by a 16-metre long Grey beam, was a characteristic participation of a third metallurgical company (Hadir).

Finally, various quarries, slate quarries and ceramic factories contributed to the project by supplying materials for the Palace's surroundings and for the interior paving. One of these firms had supplied a drinking trough of the Public Works Administration model.


If we consider Luxembourg's participation in the order of the subjects covered by the Exhibition's General Classification, we can make the following observations.

CLASS 3III (CURE AND DRINKING WATERS) included the participation of the Etablissement thermal de Mondorf-Etat and the Eaux minérales d'Echternach. Two beautiful stands, well in the note of the Exhibition, with photos, reproduction of the sources and tasting of the waters.

In CLASSES 4 (RIVERS AND CANALS) AND 6 (INLAND PORTS), only the Public Works Administration presented preliminary projects for navigation canals: Ourthe-Moselle and Moselle-Chiers.

On the other hand, in CLASS 9 (URBAN AND RURAL WORKS), both official and private contributions were abundant.

We noted those of the Central Administration of Public Works and the administrations of the cities of Luxembourg and Esch-sur-Alzette, of the State Agricultural Service, of the Geological Map Service and of the two Waterworks Syndicates. In addition, a number of private exhibitors showed some very remarkable objects. Details of these were given earlier in this study (see overview). It should be noted that this participation in class 9, although not very extensive, was nevertheless more or less complete. The entire programme of this class, which was very broad, was covered, from the collection of springs to the accessories for the distribution and consumption of water, without excluding the special problems of agricultural water technology and the installations of baths and swimming pools.

In CLASS 10 (WATER PURIFICATION), we found only one Grand-Ducal exhibitor (R. Loesch) whose stand was located at the Belgian National Defence Collective. This was also mentioned in the analysis of the Belgian participation in this class.

In CLASS 11 (HYDRAULIC MOTORS AND MACHINES), there was only one exhibitor presenting the hydraulic press mentioned above.

In CLASS 13 (WATER TECHNOLOGY AND ELECTRICITY), the Compagnie luxembourgeoise de Radio-diffusion (Radio-Luxembourg) was included, but this participation was actually on the fringe of the Exhibition programme. There was no element relating to the relationship between water and electricity.

In CLASS 15VI (WATER IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY), there was a fine exhibition by the Brewers' Federation on the various stages of beer production. Although this demonstration was not done in a technical form, it was one of the rare participations in the class under consideration which was really in conformity with the programme of the Exhibition. And this is a credit to the Luxembourg brewers, whose products have long been renowned.

In addition, there were a number of wine exhibitors, including an important group, the Fédération des Comices viticoles.

In CLASS 16II (MATERIALS), visitors could find metal products, cement, lime, slate and ceramics. It should be noted that in most cases, care was taken to show the role of water, either in the manufacture or in the use of these products.

CLASS 16III (EQUIPMENT AND TOOLS) included three fine entries which we have already highlighted: those of the country's major metallurgical plants. Two of them presented sheet piles, the third a large Grey beam.

In the field of CLASSES 20 AND 21 (FISHING AND AQUICULTURE), the Administration of Water and Forests was registered with models of fish catching devices and statistics concerning fish farming.

In CLASS 24 (SOCIAL ECONOMY), the Administration of the City of Luxembourg and that of Esch-sur-Alzette were registered.

In CLASS 27d (SPORTS), the Canoe Club of Luxembourg was included. Finally, in CLASS 27e (TOURISM), the Department of Tourism and part of the City of Luxembourg's stand were well represented. In addition, 13 local tourist associations also exhibited, albeit in a more modest way.


It should come as no surprise that Luxembourg's participation was not complete. Some of the classes in the General Programme were clearly not able to tempt the organisers of this section. This was the case, for example, with the scientific classes (1, 2 and 3), the waterways classes (4 to 8), the navigation and shipbuilding classes (17, 18 and 19) and the colonial classes (22 and 23).

The main effort of the participation was thus focused on
a) Urban and rural works (class 9),
b) Certain metallurgical products (sheet piling) and construction products (ceramics, etc.);
c) Tourism.

In addition, mention should be made of mineral and thermal waters, beer and wine.

In the fields covered, which were the only ones that Luxembourg could tackle in an international competition of this kind, the organisers clearly spared no effort and succeeded in achieving a representation worthy of their country. Perhaps, one could have expected a more extensive participation of tourism, which, as we know, is one of the vital industries of the country. This was a subject that could easily have been developed to a greater extent: the mysteries of some of the beautiful valleys, which attract a large number of tourists every year, could have been better highlighted.

The attached statistical table shows the number of awards obtained by the exhibitors. It can be seen that the percentage of first category awards is 88 for official exhibitors and 48 for private exhibitors. However, for the latter, this percentage does not reflect the value of the products exhibited. This is due to the fact that in the tourism class (27th), all the local tourist offices were entered individually. Their participation was very modest and the Jury awarded them each only the Silver Medal. Their relatively high number in relation to the total number of exhibitors has a strong influence on the overall average. If we exclude the 27th class, the percentage of high awards to private exhibitors is 76 instead of 48. This corresponds better to the value of the industrial products presented. They were not numerous, but their quality was first class.

In addition, 37 awards were presented to the exhibitors' staff, including 2 Grand Prizes, 9 Diplomas of Honour, 8 Gold Medals, 10 Silver Medals, 5 Bronze Medals and 3 Special Diplomas.

© General Report - International Water Technology Exhibition - Liège 1939